Five Major Religions. Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism. Religion.
Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism
Most people on Earth have an organized culture. One aspect of this culture is a type of religion. There are many types of religions; however, due to time, we will be studying the five major religions of the world.
Religion has always been a very major part of culture, influencing governments, families, daily habits, and more. For ex. worshipping on Sunday, cannot eat pork, praying five times a day.
Judaism first developed as a religion more than 3000 years ago. It was the world’s first religion based on the God who set down laws about right and wrong.
The Israelites were related to other peoples of the Fertile Crescent, but developed a unique culture. They practiced monotheism whereas the people of the Fertile Crescent practiced polytheism.
The Jews originated from Abraham, a man called by God to leave his home in Ur and go to a place called Canaan. God told Abraham that his descendants would be a great nation and own the land of Canaan , or the Promised Land. This became a covenant , or binding agreement with Abraham and God.
Most of what Jews believe about the origins of their religion comes from the Torah, or the Pentateuch which means penta=five, teuch = vessel, book or tool. The Torah consists of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
Can you list them?
In Genesis, it says that Abraham’s grandson Jacob had twelve sons who made up the twelve tribes of Israel. These people became known as the Israelites.
As time passed, the children of Abraham grew and prospered. Unfortunately, a famine wiped out the crops and the Israelites had to go to Egypt for help.
After many years in Egypt a new ruler took the Israelites into bondage and forced them to work as slaves in Egypt for many years.
After many years, Moses rose up to lead the Jews out of Egypt. Let’s read the story on page 122.
The God of the Hebrews forbade worshiping other gods. This belief in one God set the Israelites apart from other people living in the Fertile Crescent.
Do you know why? Monotheism not polytheism.
God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. These were 10 laws that made the core of Jewish religion.
The Sabbath was Israel’s day of rest and prayer. What day is ours today?
According to the Bible, Israel became a powerful kingdom under the leadership of King David. The capital city was Jerusalem.
David’s son Solomon, built a great temple in Jerusalem and it was the center of both religious and political life
After King Solomon’s death, the kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms:
Northern Kingdom-Israel- was conquered by the Assyrians.
Southern Kingdom- Judah-was conquered by the Babylonians.
Resulting in the scattering of Jews to many parts of the world is called Diaspora
Ethical monotheism- There is only one God
Observance of law- the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the Talmud (text concerning commentaries about the Jewish laws).
Love for others- Love one another as you love yourself.
Weekly day of rest- Sabbath
Commitment to study and prayer
Connection to the Land of Israel- Canaan, sacred sites.
The Aryans were a nomadic tribe that invaded the people of India and settled in the Indus River valley area. They composed a collection of spiritual hymns and songs to religious worship called the Vedas. The Vedas called upon people to make offerings to their gods. The best known of the Vedas is the Rig Veda. It includes more than 1000 hymns praising Aryan gods and goddesses who represent the sky, sun, and fire.
The Caste System-fixed social class into which a person is born and which you would stay in your entire life. It was grouped into two different ways – occupational and religious.
Occupational or jati meant birth group.
Religious or Varnas was based on religious status.
The Vedas identify four varnas, or caste groupings :
Kshatriyas (rulers and warriors)
Vaishyas (landowners, bankers, merchants)
Sudras (farmers, laborers, servants)
Later another was added- Dalits (untouchables) they did the dirty jobs
People began to change their thinking about the rituals and questioned their importance. They turned to gurus or teachers for answers. The gurus would leave their house and live in the forests and talk about religious ideas. This would result in the Hindu religion. Their ideas survive in writings known as the Upanishads. This became the Hindu holy scriptures.
The Upanishads helped connect people to the emerging Hindu religion. The Brahmins were supposed to interpret the Vedas, but now the Upanishads encouraged all Indians to study the Upanishads.
There are two main beliefs in Hinduism:
There is one cosmic god-Brahman.
Every person is born with a soul.
Brahman is the source of all things and Hindus worship individual gods or goddesses as forms of Brahman. Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, and Shakti are some examples.
The soul is considered a form of Brahman as well.
Another important belief is Reincarnation and aKarma.
Reincarnation means when the body dies it will come back in another body.
Karma is a law that determines how a person is reborn. It is the effect of a person’s actions in this and in previous lives. Good Karma=rebirth in to a higher caste while bad Karma =rebirth into a lower caste.
Four Goals: Hindus believe that people have four basic goals in life.
Doing what is right- Dharma- a person’s duty in his/her caste and avoiding doing harm to any living thing- Ahimsa.
Striving for wellbeing, or earning a livelihood with dignity
Pleasure- this includes physical pleasures
Moksha or liberation from reincarnation.
Buddhism like Hinduism arose in India and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who became known as Buddha.
Siddhartha was a prince who was sheltered from sickness, old age, and death. He eventually saw those things and was greatly disturbed by them. He also saw a holy man that caused him to give up his pampered life and search for enlightenment.
He finally reached enlightenment or a state of perfect wisdom. He changed his name to Buddha or “the Enlightened One.”
Buddha accepted the idea of karma, but did not accept the idea of a permanent soul. He believed that it would disappear and cease to exist when a person achieved enlightenment. He did not believe in the existence of any god or the caste system.
His major beliefs were the Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path.
The Middle Way meant not to be too worldly and not live too poor.
The 1st noble truth- all of life involves suffering.
2nd- wanting or desiring things for oneself causes suffering- don’t be selfish.
3rd- people can end their suffering by giving up all selfish desires.
4th- follow the Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path prepares the mind for a new way of life, taking charge of one’s behavior, and train the mind to gain enlightenment.
Right belief- belief in and understanding the 4 noble truths
Right purpose- make spiritual growth your purpose
Right speech- be aware of what you say
Right conduct- be aware of what you do
Right livelihood- choose a profession that supports spiritual growth
Right effort- make an effort to control thoughts and hold to good ones.
Right mindfulness- be aware of what one thinks and feels. Control over emotions.
Right meditation- practice the kind of meditation that leads to enlightenment.
If you do all these you can reach nirvana-state of blissful peace without desire or suffering.
People who practice the Islamic faith are called Muslims. They consider Muhammad the prophet of their religion a messenger from God.
Muhammad was born in Mecca which was a religious center for the shrine Kaaba.
As he grew up he noted greed, corruption, and violence, so he went to a cave outside of Mecca and prayed and saw the angel Gabriel who gave him messages from God. These were written down to create the Quran, Islam’s holy book.
As Muhammad preached one God and the revelations from God, many believed. He stated he was a prophet like Abraham, Jesus and the prophets of Judaism and Christianity, but was to clarify God’s truth. Soon many opposed Islam and fear of angering the gods cause Muhammad and his followers to leave Mecca and move to Medina. This migration is called the Hijra.
Muhammad became a political and military leader who led the Muslims to overtake the rulers of Mecca and put them under his rule. He returned to Mecca and reinstated the Kaaba as a religious shrine and after his death the Islamic faith spread throughout Asia.
Basic beliefs: Quran- holy book which covers nature of God, creation, and the human soul.
Believe in one God- monotheistic
Islam means submission submitting to God’s will.
Teach a soul will keep living after a person dies. Choose good or evil and it will affect your soul after death.
The Five Pillars of Islam
1 Belief- there is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God
2 Prayer- your duty to pray towards Mecca five times a day.
3 Charity- give to the poor and needy.
4 Fasting- During Ramadan you will not eat or drink between daybreak and sunset for one month.
5. Pilgrimage- travel to Mecca at least once in your lifetime.
In 63 BC, the Romans took control of the Jewish kingdom in Judea. Many Jews opposed the Roman rule and were hoping for the Messiah or savior, to come and save them from the Romans and establish a kingdom on Earth. During this time, there were many religious factions that led the Jewish community.
First faction-Zealots- who opposed the Roman rule by force.
2nd- Pharisee- educated people who observed Jewish law and believed that good people could be resurrected after death.
3rd- Sadducees- were elite Jews who did not believe in the resurrection.
4th- Were followers of John the Baptist, who taught Christ was to come and baptize for salvation. John 1:29, Acts 19:3-5
Jesus, son of God, was raised by a carpenter in Nazareth, began His teaching around the age of 30. He preached to the Jews about the one and only God and the steps to salvation.
He chose 12 men or apostles to help Him spread His teachings. Jesus taught that God was loving and forgiving. He said that people must love God with all their hearts and love their neighbors as they loved themselves.
Jesus also promised that who obeyed the gospel would have everlasting life. His followers believed Him to be the messiah. This caused a problem with the rulers, that Jesus was teaching that God was more important than the emperor. Fearing a revolt the Jewish leaders asked for His death. The request was granted and Jesus was crucified.
Crucifixion was the worst and most humiliating way to die in Roman times. The crosses were on a public road for all to see and most times it was a way for all to come and spend the day watching people die. The person condemned was laid out and nailed onto a cross, hands and feet) and left to suffocate until death. They were most often beaten before they were crucified, so death would come faster.
As we know, Christ rose again after the third day and told His apostles to spread His teachings to the world.
The church began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost c. AD 33.
Ways of Worship
Christians shared a common faith in the teachings of Jesus. They prayed, sang, gave money to help the poor, preached the word, partook of the Lord’s Supper, which was a representation of His body and blood. They also practiced baptism, which means immersion in water, to represent washing away of sins and being buried with Christ.
Christianity began to spread all throughout Judea, Asia, and eventually spread to Rome. One of the most devoted followers was a man named Paul. Originally named Saul, he persecuted the church and the Christians, but was converted and became a leader in spreading the gospel. He also wrote 13 of the books in the New Testament. Unfortunately, many Christians died due to the persecution of the church, but it also caused the spread of the church and Christ’s teachings throughout the world.