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According to Judaism, non-Jews can only be regarded as righteous if they follow the seven Noachide laws:

  1. Not to worship idols.
  2. Not to curse God.
  3. To establish courts of justice.
  4. Not to commit murder.
  5. Not to commit adultery or sexual immorality.
  6. Not to steal.
  7. Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal

To most Jewish scholars, Islam is such a religion which abides by the Noachide rules strictly and is not considered Avodah Zara (idolatry).

On the other hand, Jews have regarded Hinduism traditionally Avodah Zara, beginning from the great Jewish philosopher, Maimonides. However, even though most Hindus indulge in the practice of "murti-puja" which is basically idolatry, there are some Hindus who are staunchly against idol-worship, such as the Arya Samaj organisation. This is what the founder of the Arya Samaj organisation, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, says about idolatry in Pg 242 of his "The Light of Truth":

Being All-pervading He cannot be imagined to exist in any particular object only. To hold to the contrary would be tantamount to believing that the sovereign Lord of the earth rules over a small cottage to the exclusion of His whole Empire and would be an insult to Him. In like manner, it is a blasphemy against God to imagine Him as existing in one particular object only.

If you believe Him to Omnipresent, why do you pluck flowers fro the garden and offer them to the idol, make a thin paste of Sandal wood and apply this to it, burn incense, beat drums and cymbals, and blow trumpets before it? He pervades your hands, why do you then stand before it with folded palms? He is in your head, why should you then prostrate yourself before the image? He is in food and drinks, why should you then offer them to it? He is in water, why, should you the bathe it? God pervades all these things. What do you worship, the pervader or the pervaded? If the former, why do you then offer flowers, etc., to images made of stone or wood? If the latter, why do you then lay a false claim to the worship of God? Why don't you say that you worship stalks and stones etc., which is the bare truth?

The Arya Samaj, instead believes God to be formless in the infallibility of the Vedas, one of the principle key texts of Hinduism and puts emphasis on chanting of the mantras inside it and the rituals prescribed in text. The rituals mainly comprise of offerings to the holy fire.

So can Jews consider Hindus belonging to the Arya Samaj as righteous since they condemn idolatry?

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    I think it would be hard for one of us to give you a definitive answer, since I'm assuming none of us know that much about Arya Samaj Hinduism. All we can do at this point is take the information you've provided us, and draw a conclusion based on that. But that doesn't mean it's true. Perhaps there are more details you don't know about or didn't include which would change the answer either way. – ezra Aug 27 '18 at 23:17
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – chacham Nisan Aug 28 '18 at 9:08
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I am not familiar with the inner-workings and fundamental beliefs of the Hindu organisation named Arya Samaj to be able to give a definitive answer, but based on the information you provided above, it seems that it would not be consider avodah zarah for non-Jews.

It must be noted that any religion other than Judaism is considered avodah zarah for a Jew. Avodah zarah literally means "foreign worship", and to a Jew, any religion other than Judaism would fall under this category.

Since (apparently) the Arya Sumaj Hindus believe God to be one, have no form, etc. it seems it is no more avodah zarah than Islam. Since Islam is not considered to be avodah zarah, I think we can conclude that this would not be either, provided this religion follows all the Seven Noahide Mitzvot.

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    There's one operative difference here: Outside of E"Y, one may appear to adopt Islam in times of shmad (eg. when captured by extremists like Da3esh or al-Qe3eda חס ושלום) and there is indication that the Rambam may have done so at some point – Noach MiFrankfurt Aug 28 '18 at 4:15
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    @NoachMiFrankfurt Not like I can disagree with the Rambam, but note that there were a lot of rabbonim from the Rambam's time who disagreed with that, and held you had to give up your life rather than accept Islam. – ezra Aug 28 '18 at 4:32
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    They believe in one god, but it's not God. – Double AA Aug 28 '18 at 12:38
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    @Noach Arya Samaj. At least that's my impression at first glance but I could be wrong. In any event this answer gives no reason to think that's not the case – Double AA Aug 28 '18 at 14:25
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    @ezra You could refer to a the same entity even having mistakes about it's properties. If I think Bill Clinton's middle name is Washington and you think it's Jefferson, that doesn't mean we're thinking of different people. So too someone who believes in God but doesn't think He did certain things. – Double AA Aug 28 '18 at 14:42

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