A quick look at some of the world’s religions

Baha’i and World Religion Day

The Baha’i Temple and Gardens in Haifa, Israel.

Baha’i is a form of faith that emerged in 19th century Persia and follows three core principles: unity of God, religion and humankind. Members of the Baha’i faith believe that there is a single God and the spirituality of all religions in the world stem from this single god. Baha’i writings state that, “the gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of humankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. World Religion Day (on 19 January 2020) is now observed around the globe by many faith traditions with conferences, interfaith activities and prayer services.

Judaism – ancient monotheistic Abrahamic religion

Judaism is an ancient monotheistic religion considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel more than 3 000 years ago. Judaism’s texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i faith.

Christianity – saving the world from sin

Christianity is the most followed religion with more than two billion adherents worldwide. Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament of the Bible and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Christians believe that God sent his son to earth to save humanity from the consequences of its sins. One of the most important concepts in Christianity is that Jesus gave his life on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day. They believe that there is only one God, but that there are three aspects to this one God: God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Islam – submission to the will of God

The word Islam means ‘submission to the will of God’ or Allah. Islam is the second largest religion in the world with almost two billion followers. Muslims, the followers of Islam, believe that Islam was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the One God more than 1 400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia. According to Muslims, God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law. Jesus, Moses and Abraham are respected as prophets of God. Muslims believe that the final Prophet was Muhammad. The five pillars of Islam are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting, and a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once.

Sufism – Islamic mysticism

Sufism is Islamic mysticism. Although Sufis are relatively few in number, they have shaped Islamic thought and history. Through the centuries Sufis contributed hugely to Islamic literature. Rumi, Omar Khayyám and Al-Ghazali’s influence extended beyond Muslim lands to be quoted by Western philosophers, writers and theologians.

Watch: Whirling Dervishes perform at the Sirkeci train station in Istanbul. They spin to attain a trance-like state that they believe brings them closer to God.

Hinduism – oldest living religion in the world

Hinduism is the religion of the majority of people in India and Nepal. It has more than a billion adherents worldwide. In some ways Hinduism is the oldest living religion in the world, yet it resists easy definition partly because of the vast array of practices and beliefs found within it. Unlike most other religions, Hinduism has no single founder, no single scripture, and no commonly agreed set of teachings. Most Hindus believe in a Supreme God, whose qualities and forms are represented by the multitude of deities which emanate from him. Hindus believe that existence is a cycle of birth, death and rebirth, governed by Karma. Hindus celebrate many holy days, but the Festival of Lights, Diwali, is the best known.

Buddhism – personal spiritual development

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

Buddhism is a tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development. Buddhists strive for a deep insight into the true nature of life and do not worship gods or deities. There are more than 500 million followers worldwide. Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana by following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent. Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.

Zoroastrianism – world’s oldest revealed religion

Monotheistic Zoroastrianism is the oldest of the revealed world religions. It has probably had more influence on mankind, directly and indirectly, than any other single faith. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster or Zarathustra in ancient Iran approximately 3 500 years ago. It was once the religion of the mighty Persian Empire. Today it has about 2.6 million adherents. The world’s largest population of Zoroastrians are the Parsi community in India. A prominent Indian Parsi is rock star Freddie Mercury who was born in Zanzibar.

Source: Capricorn Review