Religion can be traced back to the dawn of human existence and it plays an essential role in the life of billions of people around the world. Therefore, it is very important for everyone to have an overall knowledge about it regardless if you are a believer or not.
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide. The main religions in the world are: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions. Both Buddhism and Hinduism believe in karma and reincarnation (samsara), an endless cycle of birth, suffering, death, and rebirth.
Karma is the notion of moral consequences that are carried along with every act. The accumulated karma of all previous births and actions in the present life determines a person’s future.
Buddhism is a religion for about 300 million people around the world. The word comes from ‘budhi’, ’to awaken’. It has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, was himself awakened (enlightened) at the age of 35, Buddhanet. Its core are the Four Noble Truths that Buddha explained to his five former companions after reaching enlightenment, namely:
The noble truth of suffering. “Brothers, […the first truth] is the existence of suffering. Birth, old age, sickness, and death are suffering. Sadness, anger, jealousy, worry, anxiety, fear, and despair are suffering. Separation from loved ones is suffering. Association with those you hate is suffering. Desire, attachment, and clinging to the five aggregates are suffering.”
“Brothers, the second truth is the cause of suffering. Because of ignorance, people cannot see the truth about life, and they become caught in the flames of desire, anger, jealousy, grief, worry, fear, and despair. […] It is this craving which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming”. Suffering is caused by craving, by our continual longing for more and more and the desire for pleasure (not just sexual but all we receive through our senses).
“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of dukkha: the remainderless fading and cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, and letting go of that very craving.” The third truth teaches the suppression of suffering through the complete destruction of desire. It teaches us that there is a way to end suffering.
“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of dukkha: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.”
Buddhism is considered by some to be a religion without a God. Buddha is not a god, but an enlightened human being.
A difficult, but fundamental concept within Christianity is the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is the belief that God is one in essence, and yet, he is three distinct people: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“The word Islam means submission to the will of God. Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers,” BBC
Islam was founded by Muhammad in 622 A.D. in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Islam’s central belief is that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger. It is a monotheistic religion, too.
The world’s largest religion is Christianity, it has approximately 2.2 billion adherents. Islam is the second largest religion with 1.57 billion followers.
“The Quran is the Muslims’ holy scripture,” CBBC, Newsround, Guides: Islam. Muslims believe the Quran to be the direct words of Allah, as revealed to and transmitted by the Prophet Muhammad and should be interpreted literally. What are the Five Pillars of Islam? “They are the testimony of faith, prayer, giving zakat (support of the needy), fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime for those who are able,” A Brief Illustrated guide.
Atheism is a non-prophet organization, George Carlin.
Only one thing is for certain, religion plays an essential role in the life of billions of people. We need to respect people’s believes, opinions, and sensitivities whatever they are regardless if we agree with them or not.