Over the ages, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have grown and expanded to create what many people call “the Major World Religions”. These religions have developed over time, to establish various tenets. The tenets established are aimed at directing their adherents to attain their religious duties, and responsibilities in a better style possible.
The five major religions have incorporated their founders and profounder aims or objectives of guaranteeing human existence, success and realization of purpose in life as a condition of attaining spiritual freedom.
The major world religions have specific, or rather, a cause for their existence. It is challenging to understand the founder of Hinduism because it is a form of religion founded by any individual. It is God centered religion, thus; one can call Hinduism as founded by God. This is because Hinduism is built on psychological principles, encouraging all human beings to embrace. The followers of Hinduism are called Hindus.
Buddhism founder is Sidharta Gautama. He was called Buddha by his adherents, which means the “awakened one”. Religious history gives little information about him. However, religious authors argue that Buddha was born around 563BC in a region of the Indian sub-continent. Buddhist adherents are called Buddhists, and a community of Buddhists is Sangha (congregation). Buddhism has many gods. They include; Lord Krishna, Vishnu, goddess Lakshami and goddess Saraswati among others.
Muhammad, the founder of Muslim faith is believed to have been born in Mecca in 570. Muslims believe that God sent him as the messenger of good news. The Islam followers are known as Muslims and they call their God Allah.
Judaism is connected with the rabbis of the second century; many historians, however, believe Hillel, a Pharisee, was the real founder. Hillel immigrated to Palestine during the first century BC. The followers of Judaic religion are called Jewish or Jews.
Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity. Moreman argues that regardless of whether Jesus was a deity or not, there exists sufficient evidence that He founded Christianity (80). Many religious authors emphasize that Jesus was baptized at the age of thirty years in River Jordan. He was then anointed with the Holy Spirit, which sparked His earthly ministry. The early adherents of Christianity were known as the Nazarenes, however, nowadays they are known as Christians.
The major five religions have existed for thousands of years. Most of them have strengthened their teachings and practices basing on their sacred scriptures and writings. Besides, they have embraced the practices of their founders to strengthen their faith in what they believe. Thus, among the five religions, despite their names and places of origin, they all have varied similarities in their religious teachings, practices and rituals, among other aspects.
Gwynne (95) notes the similarity among the Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is the existence of a Supreme Authority. The five religions believe in the existence of Supreme Authority who controls the earth. The Supreme Authority is known through various names. For example, Judaism refers to him as Adonai, Elohim, YHWH (in the Tanakh) Judaic sacred writings. Islam call him Allah, Christianity refer to him as God, Hinduism Brahma, whereas Buddhism call him Vairocana/ Dainichi.
All these religions believe the Supreme Authority is Almighty, All pervading and beyond the Law of Change (Gwynne 123). They also believe that the Supreme Authority is the Creator, The Father of all and the Ruler of Creation. Therefore, God in their appropriate context is an icon of unity compelling harmony with fellow human beings. It is therefore, the responsibility of an adherent to seek Him through virtue or just actions.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam also have a similar perspective about the supremacy of a human being. They agree that a human being is unique among other created creatures. Hence, the five major religions spread the message to their adherents to accomplish this goal and create parity as the basis of their principles and practices.
They attest that all human beings were created equally, and discrimination is an artificial element which is designed by human imagination (Robinson and Rodrigues 124). Without equality succeeding, the aim of superiority is not possible. They all agree that discrimination is the source of malpractices, evils and injustices engulfing the human race and they should be detested in practice for one to be religiously pure.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam also share the view of coordination between action and knowledge. They agree that, among all created creatures, a human being has been given unrivalled wisdom and intellect; therefore, human beings can use this knowledge in distinguishing between what is good from wrong or seeing what is right from false.
According to Warren the Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam have distinct shrines, sacred sites or a place of worship where they carry out their religious practices, acts or ceremonies (71). For example, Hindus and Buddhists have almost similar types of temples where they worship and present offerings and gifts to their god(s). Similarly, Muslims worships in a mosque, Christians in a church, Jews worship in the synagogue.
Many religions have placed much emphasis on the afterlife, and especially what happens to the soul or body after one dies. The five major religions have some similarities on this issue. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe in after life, though the afterlife situation varies across these religions because of their teachings; similarities in their beliefs are distinct (Moreman 84).
For Hindus, they believe that when a person dies he/she is reincarnated to live the next life only if he/she follows and believes in the Hinduism teachings. On the other hand, Christians view is that they may either choose to go to heaven or hell. However, this depends on how the person lives his/her life on earth. Moreman explains that doing sinful deeds during an individual’s life may prohibit that person from entering the gates of heaven (105).
For Muslim followers, they believe in the Day of Judgment, and heaven and hell. A person is responsible for his/her final judgment he/she will receive. They will be charged basing on their deeds and their intents. In heaven and hell, Muslims believe the ultimate journey of a person to heaven or hell depends on the degree in which the person acted and intended, as God desires mercy and justice towards others.
Ceremonies which identify the puberty, childbirth, and death are universal rituals. They serve as rites of passage among the major world religions. For example, the rite of passage, known as puberty, is common among the major world religions. Moreman notes that, in Judaism, it is called Bar Mitzvah. Other rites shared include; funeral processions (124).
The major world religions have set aside holy days, which are meant for worship. For Judaism, they call it Sabbath which occurs on a Saturday. Christians have their holy day on Sunday, Islam on Friday, among other religions. However, whichever the time set aside, both religions assert that it should be kept holy.
Also, other sacrifices come in the form of obeying the holidays. For Islam, celebration honoring a spiritual savior is obeyed (Mawlid An Na-bi), Christians (Christmas), and Buddhism (Buddha’s Birthday). Additionally, the other typical holiday recognized by all major religions is the New Year which is celebrated by Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Hindu.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity show some similarities in their sacred scriptures or place some emphasis on some of the historical writing as a cornerstone of their faith. For Christians; they have the Bible; Judaism embraces the Talmud, Tanach, Psalms and the Torah which comprises the first five books of the Old Testament.
Islam has the Quran and Hadith, the sayings of Muhammad. Besides, Buddha’s use the Tripitaka as an exclusive canonical text and Sutrasare, which is revered in Mahayana Buddhism. In Hinduism, the Bhagavad-Gita is famous and most respected Hindu scripture while the Upanishads is made up of passionate statements.
Although there are substantial similarities among the five major world religions, differences still exist. Christianity believes that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior for their faith. They believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins Without Him there is no opportunity for humans to be redeemed in His eyes. Judaism, on the other hand, believes that Jesus Christ was another man, and there was nothing remarkable about him.
Islam also witnesses that Muhammad was the son of God and that Jesus also was just an ordinary man. Islam also believes that Muhammad was not founding a new religion. Instead, he was completing the unfinished religion that was told to Moses, Adam, Abraham and Jesus. Hindus believe in the caste system. They view the reality of living is to purify the soul and get closer to Brahma.
Islam, Judaism and Christianity, are monotheistic religious groups. They believe in one God. Buddhism and Hinduism, on the other hand, is polytheist. They believe in superior beings that are gods and goddesses (Press et al 85).
Christianity teaches that when a person dies, they are resurrected as the same person. They further witness there is the resurrection of the saved and the lost. However, other religious groups such as the Hinduism believe in the reincarnation, where a person dies and returns several times as a different person.
Judaism follows a series of ethics as voiced in the Hebrew bible. Details of Jewish scriptures are not sure about immortality. The case of ethics which Jews follow is the laws and commandments which they believe were revealed by God. Jews also believe that the Messiah will come to take them to God. However, they do not believe the messiah is Jesus. This is where they differ from Christians and other religions (Robinson and Rodrigues 86).
Islam has more differences on key beliefs. They see Jesus has a prophet. They do not believe that he is the son of God. Therefore, they follow teachings of Muhammad, to whom God revealed his will in the form that Quran illustrates.
Buddhism and Hinduism believe in the cycle of birth and death. Hindus worship different gods with the Supreme Being called Brahman. For both, the ideal state is to rid the cycle of birth and death by gaining Nirvana or Moksha.
The major world religions have symbols which have significant meaning on their faith. However, these symbols are unique to each religious group. Though they differ, the ultimate goal is serving a function of a religious nature. Buddhism has a lotus symbol.
The lotus symbol represents enlightenment because of its purity. Buddha is portrayed on the lotus pedestal (Press et al 84). Christianity has a cross with vertical and horizontal reaches. It indicates that Jesus Christ was viewed as God and a Man. Besides, the cross symbolizes the sacrificial nature of redemption. Judaism has a six-pointed Star of David.
This is a traditional symbol for Judaism. The symbol is used for decorations in synagogues and on ceremonial objects (Warren 121). Islam has no official symbols but the star and crescent is often connected to Muslims. Some suggest Muslims view the moons as an indication of the commencing of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
All the major world religions of the world have different fundamental similarities. This illustrates their underlying collaboration. The fundamentals also provide means for human unity, common development and interest is majorly recognized among them. However, the similarities are, in fact, their universal message to their adherents in which they remain embedded and provide an all-round success to everyone.
On the other hand, they do also show differences in their teachings, practices, rituals among others. The differences provide a model which makes them stand out as unique and appealing to their adherents.
Gwynne, Paul. World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.
Moreman, Christopher. Beyond the Threshold: Afterlife Beliefs and Experiences in World Religions. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. Print.
Press, Greenwood, Taitz Emily and Bailey Lee Worth. Introduction to the World’s Major Religions, Volume 2. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005. Print.
Robinson, Thomas Arthur & Rodrigues Hillary. World Religions. London: Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd, 2006. Print.
Warren, Matthews. World Religions. Connecticut: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.