World Religions

By Ehab Said

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Christianity is currently the world's most widespread religion, carrying about 2.1 billion followers around the world. It is a monotheistic religion and centers around the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The Holy Book of the Christian religion is known as the Bible, consisting of both the Old and New Testaments.

Christianity's history starts with the virgin Mary, who unknowingly became pregnant with the Son of God. Soon after, she gave birth to Jesus Christ. Jesus spent most of his time working miracles, teaching, healing, and spreading his religion. Jesus claimed to speak with the authority of God, due to being his son, which angered many religious authorities in Palestine and Rome, persecuting him by death by means of crucifixion. He was resurrected on the Sunday following his execution, and ascended into heaven shortly after.

Christians celebrate two major holidays: Christmas, the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, and Easter.

Most Christians attend church every Sunday, with that being their Sabbath.

World Religions: Christianity
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Also belonging to one of the three Abrahamic faiths along with Christianity and Islam, Jews follow the teachings of Moses. Judaism is a monotheistic religion along with the other two religions in its group. Their holy book is known as the Torah.

Judaism originated in the Middle East like Islam, about 3500 years ago. Jewish history and teachings are sometimes very similar to Christian teachings since both religions follow the stories from the Old Testament. Along with this, they both abide by the Ten Commandments, with Moses being the one to introduce them in Judaism. According to Jewish teachings, the Jews were chosen by God to be an example to the world and how the people strengthened their relationship with Him.

Major Jewish holidays include Hanukkah and Passover.

World Religions: Judaism
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Hinduism is thought to be the oldest living religion in the world, at the very least partially. No specific founder is named for Hinduism since many different practices and beliefs are found within the religion and some have no tales of their origin. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion unlike the more common Abrahamic religions. The main principles of Hinduism are recorded in texts known as Vedas.

Hindus believe that existence is cyclical, and that all humans go through birth, death, and rebirth. These processes are thought to be governed by Karma.

Hinduism over time has been a mostly fragmented religion, with the entire religion not being present throughout time but mostly certain Hindu traditions being present in the ancient past. As such, the history of Hinduism is difficult to piece together.

The most known Hindu holiday is Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

World Religions: Hinduism
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Buddhism is a very spiritual religion that focuses mostly on enlightenment and deep insight into life's true nature. The religion doesn't carry a specific god, and its followers believe that everything in life is dynamic and that no single thing is permanent. They believe that anything can change at ay given moment. Along with this, it is believed that enlightenment is achieved through developing your meditations, morality, and wisdom.

Buddhism was started by Siddhartha Gautama, otherwise known as the Buddha, about 2500 years ago. Siddhartha was born into a royal family in present day Nepal, never witnessing things such as death and sickness until reaching adulthood. Disgusted by this, Siddhartha decided to give up his luxuries to live as a homeless holy man and learn the suffering that many commonly go through each day. While looking for many different pursuits in religion, he concluded that none of them seemed right and devised his own Middle Way, a life with neither luxury nor poverty. With his experience in life, he wished to achieve Enlightenment, and Buddhists referred to his success by naming him the Buddha, or the awakened one.
World Religions: Buddhism
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Islam is one of the three main Abrahamic religions along with Christianity and Judaism and is monotheistic like them. It is currently thought to be the world's second largest religion. Followers of Islam are known as Muslims. Muslims follow the teachings of the Holy Quran, known by Muslims to be the sacred word of God himself. When referring to God, Muslims typically use His arabic name, Allah. Muslims believe in the five pillars of Islam, which dictate the most essential pieces of the religion. These are declaration of faith, fasting during Ramadan, prayer, charity, and Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that each Muslim is required to complete at least once in their lifetime.

Islam carries some similar traits of the other Abrahamic religions yet the Quran is thought to be dated before the Old and New Testaments of the Jewish and Christian faiths. Along with this, Jesus, Moses, and Abraham(Ibrahim in Arabic) being well known prophets spoken of in the Quran. Although it is heavily believed that Islam is a faith that has always existed, the revelation of Islam occurred about 1400 years ago with Allah selecting the last prophet, Muhammad. Muslims believe that Allah sent an angel named Jibril (Gabriel in English) to Muhammad along with the Quran so that he would learn of the teachings of Islam and spread them. He spent 23 years understanding the faith and was known to study in the Cave of Hira, currently a very famous landmark in Saudi Arabia. Muhammad founded the city of Medina, which was a save haven for his followers. While leading his spirituality even futher, Muhammad died at the age of 62. Due to his efforts, Islam is currently one of the world's largest religions and the word of Allah has been spread farther than initially anticipated.

Islam's most noted holiday is Eid, occuring two times a year. During Eid, special prayers are performed and gifts are exchanged between Muslims, usually new clothing.
World Religions: Islam