Major World Religions

Information about the 5 major religions of the world!

Introduction to the meanings and reasons of religion.

Religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power of a personal God or more than one God. Beliefs and hopes of people are most often told through religion and are to some people a comfort to the biggest questions in life such as, "Where do we come from?" and "Why and How were we created?" Not only does it give reason to questions of daily human curiosity but, it also gives us something to really believe in in this world full of life and never knowing what the future holds.


Christianity

Christianity (from the Ancient Greek translation, Christos of the Hebrew, Mašíaḥ, meaning "the anointed one"and the Latin suffixes ian and -itas) is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. It is the largest practiced religion in the world, with approximately 2.2 billion adherents and is still growing today. Worldwide, the three largest groups of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the various denominations of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox patriarchates split from one another in the schism of the 11th century, and Protestantism came into existence during the Reformation of the 16th century, splitting from the Roman Catholic Church.


Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human and the savior of humanity prophesied in the Old Testiment of the Holy Bible. The foundation Of Christianity is that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins. The creeds further maintain that Jesus bodily and spiritually assended into heaven, where he reigns with God the Father. There is a prophecy taught that Jesus will return to judge all humans, living and dead, and to grant eternal life to his followers. He is considered the model of a virtuous and prosperous life.


  • Ash Wednesday: The first day of Lent, a period of fasting that leads up to Easter. Its central ritual is placing ashes on the forehead. (March 5)
  • Palm Sunday: The Sunday before Easter, commemorating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. (April 13th)
  • Maundy (holy) Thursday: The Thursday before Easter, commemorating the Last Supper, the night before Jesus was crucified. (April 17, 2014)
  • Christmas: The celebration of the birth of Jesus. The English word "Christmas" derives from the old English Christes maesse, or "Christ's mass." (Wedn. December 25)


Islam

Islam is amonotheistic and Abrahamic religion is a major world religion that is to be the 2nd largest religion(23% of the earth's population) which was founded in Arabia and is based on the teachings of Muhammad, who is also known as the last prophet to the Muslims. Muhammad's followers are called Muslims. Most Muslims are of two denominations:






Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to submit to and serve God. They also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, whom they consider prophets. They consider the Arabic Qur'an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God.


Religious concepts and practices include:


  • Five Pillars of Islam: basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship
  • Islamic Law: touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, providing guidance on multifarious topics from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment.



Major Islam Holidays:


  • Muhammad's Birthday- This holiday celebrates the birthday of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. It is fixed as the 12th day of the month of Rabi I in the Islamic calendar. Mawlid means birthday of a holy figure and al-Nabi means prophet. The day is commemorated with recollections of Muhammad's life and significance. Fundamentalist Muslims, such as the Wahhabi sect, do not celebrate it.


  • The Celebration concluding Ramadan- Ramadan, the month of fasting, ends with the festival of Eid al-Fitr. Literally the "Festival of Breaking the Fast," Eid al-Fitr is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations (Eid al-Adha is the other). At Eid al-Fitr people dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children, and enjoy visits with friends and family. A sense of generosity and gratitude colors these festivities. Although charity and good deeds are always important in Islam, they have special significance at the end of Ramadan. As the month draws to a close, Muslims are obligated to share their blessings by feeding the poor and making contributions to mosques.


  • The Islamic New Year- The month of Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic liturgical year. The Islamic year begins on the first day of Muharram, and is counted from the year of the Hegira (anno Hegirae) the year in which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina (A.D. July 16, 622). The Islamic new year is celebrated relatively quietly, with prayers and readings and reflection upon the hegira.








The Reincarnation of Peace

Buddhism

Buddhism was founded in northeastern India and is based on the teaching of Siddhartha Gautama who is also known as Buddha. There are currently 7.1% of the world's population which is following this religion. Buddhism today is divided into two branches:


  • Theravada
  • Mahayana



The main core of their belief is to obtain Nervana, which is an enlightened state in which greed, hatred, and ignorance have been overcome. Nervana is a division of the Eightfold Path, along with Anatta and Karma. The Eightfold Path is one of the daily teachings to achieve total peace that Buddha discovered (or so says the legend) which consists of:


  • right views
  • right intention
  • right speech
  • right action
  • right livelihood
  • right effort
  • right mindedness
  • right contemplation


This doctrine helped Buddha reinterpret the idea of rebirth in the cycle of phenomenal existence known as Saṃsārasince he felt that all existence is characterized by the marks of no soul, impermanence, and suffering.


Major Holidays and Rituals:


  • Vesak or Visakah Puja ("Buddha Day")- Vesak is the major Buddhist festival of the year as it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha on the one day, the first full moon day in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June.
  • Uposatha (Observance Day)- The four monthly holy days which continue to be observed in Theravada countries - the new moon, full moon, and quarter moon days. Known in Sri Lanka as Poya Day.
  • Kathina Ceremony (Robe offering ceremony)- Is held on any convenient date within one month of the conclusion of the Vassa Retreat, which is the three month rains retreat season (Vassa) for the monastic order. It is the time of the year when new robes and other requisites may be offered by the laity to the monks.
  • Abhidhamma Day- In the Burmese tradition, this day celebrates the occasion when the Buddha is said to have gone to the Tushita Heaven to teach his mother the Abhidhamma. It is held on the full moon of the seventh month of the Burmese lunar year starting in April which corresponds to the full moon day in October.


Judaism

Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Judaism originated in Israel in the Middle East. Judaism is based on the existence of one God, Yahweh, who came into agreement with the descendants of Abraham who were God’s chosen people. Judaism’s holy writings, known as the Torah, reveal how God has been present with them throughout time. The Torah is God’s will for humankind written as commandments.


The main difference between Christians and Jews, since Judaism is the basis of Christianity, is that Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God and the messiah, our savior. Jews know that Jesus was an actual man, but they didn't and still this day don't believe that he is the savior.


Major Jewish Holidays :


  • Passover: The major Jewish spring festival that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, lasting seven or eight days from the 15th day of Nisan. ( from Monday, April 14 to Tuesday, April 22)
  • Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights, commemorating the miracle at the Temple in Jerusalem. This eight day holiday is accompanied with gift-giving, as many gentiles are aware, but people also eat traditional foods during Hanukkah, and light candles on a special candelabra called a hanukiah each evening to celebrate. (from Tuesday, December 16 to Wednesday, December 24)
  • Ha-Shoah: Holocaust Remembrance day (Monday, April 28)
  • Shabbat: The Jewish Sabbath (every Friday night and Saturday)



5 Primary World Religions