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What is religion?

There are many religions around the world all with their unique beliefs and traditions, so just

because they belief in something and have traditions does it mean that they are all the same?

When it comes to comparing all the different religions around the world, do we just look at

whether they have a god or not, if they believe in life after death, reincarnation, their foundations

and how they overcame specific situation through time and the change in their beliefs due to

rejection of society or political reasons.

In Hinduism,

the goal is to achieve Moksha or liberation of the soul from Samsara which is the endless cycle

of birth, death and rebirth1. They also have ancient scriptures called Vedas which they belief

were reveal to humans from a mystical force not something of their creation. They also believe

in atman which means self or soul2, it’s said that if you can find your inner you or soul through

meditation it means that you also found brahman and by doing so you have reach a state of

beyond our understanding, a very peaceful place, reincarnation is also mention in one of their

sacred scriptures, its describe as what happens once you died, to them when someone dies the

soul leaves the old body and enters a new one.

They also have a religious leader or priest figure they call them brahmins, many deities are

another characteristic of the Hindu religion to mention some of them include: shakti, describe as

creative, female form of deity, a mother goddess, some of the forms that a Devi can take are:

Durga, Kali, Lakshmi, Saraswati, etc. Shiva is considered one of the main aspects of the deity,

the destroyer, Shiva is often display with his spouse Parvati and I think is important to mention

their son Ganesh: who guards space and time and has a lot of devotees. Vishnu consider the

1 Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (3.1)
2 Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (3.1)
most merciful and generous deity that takes several earthly forms such as animals and other

deities, Rama is one of them.

The Practice of Yoga, a spiritual discipline that they use to clear their mind and to connect with

themselves, state of purity and balance. Throughout time Hinduism had to overcome some

criticism for certain aspects of its practices from other religions and many spiritual leaders help

to keep the religion alive by making minor changes and creating awareness and nonviolent

resistance, Hinduism also has holidays where either an event or deity is celebrated.

Buddhism,

its origin begins with Buddha and how he lived his life, most of the information know was passed

from generation to generation as a story, instead of coming from a sacred scripture like other

religions. It wasn’t until late time that the first text was created the Buddhacharita or acts of the

Buddha3.

His conception is believed to had happen without intercourse but instead by a white elephant

carrying a lotus flower who entered his mother’s womb during a dream,4 for this reason they

believe that buddha was a reincarnation of someone who took compassion of the suffering in

earth. His life initially was full of comfort, until the gods show him the suffering, existence of old

age and death,5 that’s when he decided to leave everything behind and he became a monk to

find a way to be free from all suffering, after a long time of self-punishing, fasting, exposure he

realize that he wasn’t getting anywhere and change his method to reflection and meditation

through which he finally felt supreme awakening.

3 Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (5.1)
4 Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (5.1)
5 Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (5.1)
In Buddhism, there are no gods or ultimate creator, they do not see Buddha as a god but

instead as an example of what needs to be done to get to nirvana or liberation.6 To reach this

state they will need to overcome three states that get in the way of nirvana the first one is anitya

or impermanence, anatman or no self7, they do not believe in having a soul and the last one is

when the illusion cease reaching nirvana.

They believe in Karma and just like in Hinduism, this is described as the consequences of how

we decided to live our lives which are reflected in samsara as it was mention before it is the

endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Another similarity between Hinduism and Buddhism is

their meditation techniques or Yoga and that has been adapt by westerns societies, which has

been judge because it’s focus is more in the physical form instead of spiritual connection.

There was a time when the religion was spreading throughout the Indian region that monks

were persecuted because of their political influence, they also have many festivals where they

celebrate major events for their religion for example Buddha’s birthday.

Judaism,

They belief that the world and everything in it was created by a deity or greater god and in

sacred scriptures or bible called Tanakh, the most important part of the bible is the Pentateuch

or the “five books of Moses.”8 Judaism is monotheism which means that they only believe and

one god, it’s foundations focus in the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives

Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel or Matriarchs9 and their descendants. they do have a

spiritual leader or teacher refer to Rabbi, their place of worship is a synagogue where devotees

meet to pray and to read the Torah, that refers to all sacred Jewish scriptures, an event that

marked history in Judaism was the holocaust, several millions of Jewish where killed by the

6 Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (5.2
7 Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (5.2)
8
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (8.1)
9
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (8.1)
Nazi leader of Germany, they not only suffer massacres but exile from their homeland due to

these events many Jewish question God exists. They have several holy days: Hanukkah, the

feast of dedication and sabbath, which is a day of the week when they rest and take time to

worship10.

Christianity,

In Christianity, just like Buddhism everything started with the reincarnation of an individual, the

only difference is that in Buddhism, Buddha was not seen as a god but more like an example or

what to do and in the case of Christianity, Jesus was their god, teacher, example to follow and

companion, Jesus who is considered the son of god who reincarnated in human form, his

mother Mary conceived him by the holy spirit11 his concept was to spread love and to help

those in need, his actions sometimes challenge the roman and other religious authorities

making him a target that eventually lead to his crucifixion which he explain as a sacrifice for

humanity, after suffering a painful crucifixion its said that he resurrected and met with his

disciples to give them instructions to spread his teachings throughout the world. They also belief

in eternal life and the salvation of their soul through praying and following Jesus steps. They

also have sacred scriptures like the bible, old and new testament, another way for them to

connect with their god is through the seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist,

penance, extreme unction, holy orders and matrimony.12 And just like the other religions they

also suffer persecution, they have several levels when it comes to their religious leaders the

highest authority is a pope, others included: deacon, priest, bishop etc. their place of worship is

a church where mass is celebrated, mass is a ceremony where devotees pray and worship god

they also take the Eucharist.

10
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (8.5)
11
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (9.2)
12
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (9.8)
They also have many holy days some of the most important included Christmas, this is the

celebration of Jesus birth, Easter is the holy day celebrated in spring to commemorate Jesus

resurrection, ascension, etc.

Islam,

Probably the most criticized religion of the world after the most recent event that have led to the

misinterpretation of this religion, everything goes back to Abraham or Ibrahim as is known for

Muslims, it was Abraham who took his son Isma’il and his mother to the desert to maintain

prayer to god, it is written in the Holy Qur’an, which is the sacred scripture of Islam, that it was

there where the holiest sanctuary of the Islam, the Ka ’bah was built.13 The Ka ‘bah was a holy

place for Arabic tribes or Islam devotees, it was in one of these tribes that Muhammad the

prophet was born, the story of his life is narrated in the Hadith and Sunnah this sacred

literatures are used as examples in the Islam, at an older age during a spiritual retreat he

encounter an angel named Gabriel who told him to recite certain words that later became the

first part of the Qur’an14. They main belief is base in revelations made to Muhammad which they

interpret as the word of god. Islam is considered monotheism since they only believe in one god

to which they surrender and obey, just like Christianity they also have sins but the two main

ones are, Shirk or to associate something else with divinity other than God and Kufr to be

ungrateful to god.15

Unlike other religions they do not worship the reincarnation of god or deities their only god is

god himself. They do have a prayer leader like other religions have priest or brahmins they

called them Iman. They place of worship is a Mosque, some of the Muslim holidays included Eid

13
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (10.1)
14
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (10.2)
15
Fisher, Mary Pat Living Religions10th Edition, Pearson Publishing, 2015 (10.4)
Al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr which is celebrated at end of Ramadan or fasting period during the

summer time, Zakat or charity is also given during those celebrations.

If you compare the mentions aspects of this religions you will find a similarity in all of them like

believing a nonhuman being such a god, divine creature or creator, there is also an interpreter

or messenger like the apostles, Muhammad, Abraham, Buddha, some of the religions also have

a religious guide or leader for Hindus is Brahmins, Christianity a pope, beacon, or priest, Islam

has it’s Iman, Judaism has a Rabbi. A place to worship or pray, Christianity and Hinduism

mention the belief in reincarnation of the soul.

They also have a goal to reach it may differ from one religion to another but the main idea is the

salvation of the soul or the mind and just because they all have different paths or way to

express their belief that doesn’t mean that they will not get to the same place at the end.