Religions Around the World

By Ross Benway

Christianity

Christianity is a Monotheistic religion practiced by the majority of people around the world.


Christians believe in one God, but believe that that one God is three people. They believe that the three are God, The Father, God, The Son (Jesus), and God, the Holy Spirit. It is a complicated concept, but comes from a very long history in the Bible. Their have been more copies of the Bible than any other book in the world. It is also considered one of the most violent books in the world. Christians go to Church, where they pray. Every time they go to church, it is called Mass. At each mass, they receive the eucharist, which is a blessed piece of bread, which represents Gods body. They do this, to have God inside them. They also have what are called Sacriments. Christians go therough the sacriments as they grow in the Church. Christians holidays are very popular. In fact, many of them have been celebrated by non-christians. These include Christmas, the birth of Jesus, Lent, where Jesus suffered for 40 days, and Easter, where Jesus died, and rose from the dead.

Judaism

Judaism, is where Christianity started. Way back before Jesus was born and when Christianity didnt even exist, Christians, were all part of Judaism. They believed (and present day Jews currently believe) that there was just the Father and Holy Spirit. Still waiting for what is called the Messiah, or savior, to come to earth. When Jesus was born, some Jews thought he was the Messiah, and became what we now know as Christians. However, some Jews, thought that he was just a good teacher, not the savior, and remained Jewish. Jews go to the Synagog, which is the equivalent of the church. Jewish prayers are written in Hebrew, which is a language spoken in ancient times, and is the native language of Israel. Jews read out of the Torah, which is the same thing as the Old testimate in the Bible. In the Torah, instead of reading left to right, it is right to left. When you turn 13, you are considered a man or women, and you have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Which includes a party, gifts and finally reading the Torah, but it requires a lot of work to get there. Some holidays are, Yom Kippur, which is the holiest of all, where you ask for forgiveness, Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish new year, Passover, is where Jews celebrate the freedom of the Hebrew slaves. Chanukah, is the most well know. It is known as a miracle of lights and is celebrated with gifts, and the lighting of a Menorah.


Buddhism

Buddhism is a religion practiced mostly in South Asia. It is based off of the teachings of The Buddha, or "The Awakened One". The Buddha's real name is Siddhartha Gautama. He was recognized by other Buddhas as an awakened teacher, bringing light to others and an end to their suffering, through "The Elimination of Ignorance". The goal of the Buddha is to reach a state of Nirvana. Nirvana, is the absence of ignorance and craving. The Buddhas study the mind of this great man in the book, Tipitaka. Which, in the english version, is over 40 volumes. Buddhists do not believe in a God, however. They believe in what is more like a concept. The Buddha is like modern sociologists and psychologists. He did not believe in a God. He believed people with religious ideas and especially the God idea have their origins in fear. Buddhists mainly practice meditation. They relax, trying to become zen. Which means peaceful and happy. While they meditate, they listen to Mantras, which are sacred sounds, and do mudras, which are hand and arm movements. Buddhism has many holidays, but the most important is Buddha's Birthday is known as Vesakha. It is celebrated on the first full moon day in May, but when it's a leap year it falls in June.


Islam

Islam's central teaching is that there is one all-powerful, all-knowing God, who is referred to by the Arabic name, Allah. In Arabic, Islam means "surrender," or "submission," to the will of God.

Islam was founded by the prophet Mohammed. Muslims believe Mohammed was the last and most important in a series of prophets.

The holy book of Islam is the Quran , which means "the timeless words of God."

The core practices are known as the Five Pillars -- daily prayer, faith, fasting, pilgrimage and alms giving.

Performing the Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. Hajj means to set out for a place and for Muslims that place is Mecca. It is mandatory for every Muslim to make the journey at least once in a lifetime. Over 2 million Muslims made the pilgrimage in 2005. The big muslim holiday is Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the year and during which, Muslims fast during sunlight everday.