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Religions Essay Examples


Christianity was traditionally understood to be founded by
Jesus of Nazareth. Paul of Tarsus, after his conversion on
the road to Damascus, worked tirelessly to establish
Christianity among both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles of the
Diaspora. Clues in the New Testament indicate that there was
a significant rift between Paul and the Jewish leadership
early in the history of the Church. It is primarily Paul’s
writings which has most influenced the Church today.
Christians span the globe and are present on all the
inhabited continents and in most of the world’s societies.

As Christianity is a universalizing religion, it embraces
Most Christian denominations and sects teach that man is
sinful and can never inherit eternal life in the presence of
God as a result of the sins of our first parents, Adam and
Eve,as well as our own personal sin. It thus became
necessary for God to become man in the person of Jesus
Christ who as the Son of God was sinless and unblemished.
His purpose was to suffer and die in atonement for the sins
of all who accept his sacrifice for sin. Individual
salvation is dependent upon the acceptance of this

The Church is the Bride of Christ whose purpose
is to spread this message, “the Gospel”, to all people
before Christ’s return to the earth to rule all nations as
the heir to the throne of David. This is primary message of
most Christians. Other sects will have variations on this
message, and may include many other doctrines they find
necessary to their own message or purpose.
Scriptures and Other Significant Writings:
The New Testament together with the Jewish Bible make up the
canon of Christianity. The Roman Catholic and the Eastern
Orthodox branches of Christianity also include books in
their canons that many Protestants do not, called “the
Apocrypha” or the “Deuterocanonicals”.

Also important are
the writings of the early church fathers and early church
councils, which established much of the doctrine now
considered dogma in the Church today.  As of 1986, at least
one book of the Christian Bible has been translated into
1,848 languages of the world. A book has been compiled by
the United Bible Societies which lists languages
alphabetically, chronologically, and geographically Of the
present missionary efforts by many of Christianity’s sects,
biblical translation is just one of many.

Symbols: The most well known symbol of Christianity is
the cross, or crucifix, symbol of the death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ. An ancient symbol of Christianity is the
fish formed by two intersecting arcs. Often the Greek word
for fish, IXTHYS, appears within being an acronym for “Jesus
The three major branches of Christianity are Roman
Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.

are, arguably, other sects such as Mormonism claiming this
distinction due to major departures from orthodox doctrines.
Although the differing divisions and sects of Christianity
may celebrate differing holidays, place emphasis on certain
holidays rather than others, or may use a differing
calendar, the major holy days of Christianity are: Lent,
Christianity arose as an obscure Jewish sect, and through
the dedicated missionary efforts of such persons as the
Apostle Paul was distributed throughout the Mediterranean
basin. Church tradition suggests that each of the remaining
Apostles of Jesus taught in such diverse places as the
British Isles and India. After years of official persecution
by the Roman Empire, Christianity was embraced as the state
religion by Emperor Constantine.Several important church
councils were held during this time period to decide on
controversies over doctrine.

Eventually, the decisions of
these councils provided guidelines to determine orthodoxy or
heresy. The many divisions and sects now found in
Christianity today has been the result of opinions which
differed from the established doctrine.
Christianity has greatly influenced the geography of
medieval Europe, and later, the rest of the world
due to colonization and missionary efforts. Perhaps the most
significant contribution of Christianity was the
reorganization of Europe from pagan bands and villages into
the centrally organized holds of feudal Europe. This
reorganization was patterned after the ecclesiastical
hierarchy envisioned by the Church and set the stage for all
that was to come in the future.

Monasteries were set up
throughout Europe as either destinations or as
waystations for pilgrimages. Monasteries became the
repositories of civilization, learning, and often wealth.
The Church provided sanction and divine recognition for
governments of the day in the form of “Divine Right”.
The Church was responsible for the ordination of kings and
often arbitrated disputes over territory. Until the
Reformation, the Church was a power to be reckoned with in
both religious and secular matters. Also important in the
geography of Christianity is the special distribution of the
various denominations, each denomination’s geographic
divisions, and what effects each denomination has upon the

For example, many new Protestant sects such as the
Shakers experimented with new communal living arrangements
in a quest for utopia during the first part of the
nineteenth century. Although most of these efforts
eventually failed, they created intentionally designed
settlements of farms and workshops expressing new cultural
and societal ideals. Roman Catholicism and Mormonism express
their ecclesiastical geography through dividing the world
into a hierarchy of areas.

Catholics and many Protestant
groups have missionary territories throughout the world.
Most religious historians view Islam as having been founded
in 622 CE by Mohammed the Prophet in Median. It is seen as
the youngest of the world’s great religions. However, many
if not most of the followers of Islam
1  Islam existed before Mohammed was born,
2  The origins of Islam date back to the creation of the
3  Mohammed was the last of a series of Prophets.

Followers of Islam are called Muslims. “Muslim” is an Arabic
word that refers to a person who submits themselves to the
Will of God. “Allah” is an Arabic word which
means “the One True God.” An alternate spelling for “Muslim”
that is occasionally used is “Moslem”; it is not recommended
because it is often pronounced “Moslem”:
which sounds like an Arabic word for “oppressor”. Some
Western writers in the past have referred to Islam as
“Mohammedism”; this is deeply offensive to many Muslims,
as its usage can lead some to the concept that Mohammed the
Prophet was in some way divine.

Little is known about
Muhammad’s childhood. He was orphaned at the age of 6 and
brought up by his uncle. As a child, he worked as a
shepherd. He was taken on a caravan to Syria by his uncle at
the age of 9. Later, as a youth, he was employed as a camel
driver on the trade routes between Syria and Arabia.
Mohammed later managed caravans on behalf of merchants. He
met people of different religious beliefs on his travels,
and was able to observe and learn about Judaism,
Christianity and the indigenous Pagan religions.  After
marriage, he was able to spend more time in meditation.

the age of 40, he was visited in Mecca by the angel
Gabriella. He developed the conviction that he had been
ordained a Prophet and given the task of converting his
countrymen from their pagan, polytheistic beliefs and what
he regarded as moral decadence, idolatry, hedonism and
materialism. He met considerable opposition to his
teachings. In 622 CE he moved north to Medina due to
increasing persecution. The trek is known as the hegira .
Here he was disappointed by the rejection of his message by
the Jews. Through military activity and political
negotiation, Mohammed became the most powerful leader in
Arabia, and Islam was firmly established in the area.  By
750 CE, Islam had expanded to China, India, along the
Southern shore of the Mediterranean and into Spain. By 1550
they had reached Vienna.

Wars resulted, expelling Muslims
from Spain and Europe. Since their trading routes were
mostly over land, they did not an develop extensive sea
trade. As a result, the old world occupation of North
America was left to Christians.  Believers are currently
concentrated from the West coast of Africa to the
Philippines. In Africa, in particular, they are increasing
in numbers, largely at the expense of Christianity. Many do
not look upon Islam as a new religion. They feel that it is
in reality the faith taught by the ancient Prophets,
Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus. Mohammed’srole as the last
of the Prophets was to formalize and clarify the faith and
to purify it by removing foreign ideas that had been added
in error.

At a level of 1.2 billion, they represent about
22% of the world’s population. They are
the second largest religion in the world; Christianity has
33%. Islam is growing about 2.9% per year which is faster
than the total world population which increases about 2.3%
annually. It is thus attracting a progressively larger
percentage of the world’s population. The number of Muslims
in North America is in dispute: estimates range from under 3
million to over 6 million. The main cause of the
disagreement appears to be over how many Muslim immigrants
have converted to Christianity since they arrived in the US.
Statistics Canada reports that 253,260 Canadians identified
themselves as Muslims during the 1991 census. Those figures
are believed to be an under-estimate.

There are two main texts consulted by Muslims: the Qur’an
are the words of God. This was originally in oral and
written form; they were later assembled together into a
single book, the Qur’an. Its name is often spelled “Koran”
in English. This is not recommended, as some Muslims find it
offensive. The Hadith, which are collections of the sayings
of Mohammed.

They are regarded as an excellent guide for
living. However, the writings are no regarded as having the
same status as the Holy Qur’an; the latter is  considered to
Muslims follow a lunar calendar which started with the
hegira, a 300 mile trek in 622 CE when Mohammed relocated
from Mecca to Medina. A Muslim’s duties as described in the
1.to recite at least once during their lifetime the
shahadah: “There is no God but God and Mohammed is his
Prophet. Most Muslims repeat it at least daily.
2.to perform the salat 5 times a day. This is recited while
orienting one’s body towards Mecca. It is done in the
morning, at noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset and just
3.to donate regularly to charity through zakat, a 2.5%
charity tax, and through additional donations to the needy
as the individual believer feels moved.
4.to fast during the month of This is believed to be the
month that Mohammed received the Qur’an from God.
5.if economically and physically, to make at least one hajj
Jihad (struggle) is probably the most misunderstood
religious word in existence.

It often mentioned on Western
TV and radio during news about the Middle East, where it is
implied to be a synonym of “holy war” – a call to fight
against non-Muslims in the defense of Islam. The vast
majority of Muslims have an entirely different definition of
Jihad. It is seen as a personal, internal struggle with
one’s self. The goal may be achievement in a profession,
self-purification, the conquering of primitive instincts or
the attainment of some other noble goal.

God is the creator, is just, omnipotent and merciful
respect for earlier prophets and belief in their teachings:
Abraham, Moses and Jesus that Mohammed is the last of the
prophet belief in the existence of Satan who drives people
to sin that Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God
return to a state of sinlessness belief in Hell where
unbelievers and sinners spend eternity. One translation of
the Qur’an 98:1-8 states: “The unbelievers among the People
of the Book and the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire
of Hell.

They are the vilest of all creatures. belief in
Paradise, a place of physical and spiritual pleasure where
the sinless go after death abstinence from alcohol and
gambling rejection of racism avoid the use of alcohol, other
drugs, eating of pork, etc. avoid gambling that Jesus is a
prophet. They regard the Christian concept of the deity of
Jesus to be blasphemous that Jesus was not executed on the
cross Originally, in Islamic countries, there was no
separation between religious and civil law, between Islam
and the state. Turkey and some other countries have become
secular states during this century.

This is a controversial
move in Islamic circles. Understanding of Jesus, within
Islam and Christianity Traditional Christians and Muslims
have certain beliefs in common concerning Jesus. They both
accept that: Jesus’ birth was miraculous. Jesus was the
Messiah. He cured people of illness. He restored dead people
to life. However, they differ from Christians in a number of
major areas. Muslims do not believe:  In original sin (that
everyone inherits a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve’s
transgression) That Jesus was killed during his crucifixion.
Muslims believe that he escaped being executed, and later
reappeared to his disciples without having first died. That
Jesus was resurrected (or resurrected himself) circa 30 CE
Salvation is dependent either upon belief in the
resurrection of Jesus or belief that Jesus is the Son of

There are four different schools of jurisprudence within
Islam. Much blood has been spilt over disputes between them.
The main divisions are:  Followers of the Hanifa, Shafi,
Hanibal and Malik schools are called Sunni Muslims and
constitute a 90% majority of the believers. They are
considered to be main stream traditionalists. Because they
are comfortable pursuing their faith within secular
societies, they have been able to adapt to a variety of
national cultures, while following their three sources of
law: the Qur’an, Hadith and consensus of Muslims.  Followers
of the Jafri school are called Shi’ite Muslims and
constitute a small minority of Islam.

They split from the
Sunnis over a dispute about the successor to Mohammed. Their
leaders, Imams promote a strict interpretation of the Qur’an
and close adherents to its teachings. They believe in 12
heavenly Imams (perfect teachers) who guide the faithful
from their locations in Paradise.There are over 70 other
groups which originated within Islam and broke away from
the Sunni and Shi’ite faith communities:  Sufism: a mystic
tradition in which followers seek inner knowledge directly
from God through meditation and ritual and dancing. They
developed in the 7th century CE as an ascetic reaction to
the formalism and laws of the Qur’an. Baha’i World Faith:
This is an attempt to integrate all of the world religions.
It was originally a break-away sect from Islam but has since
grown to become a separate religion.

Ahmadis: Followers of
the Ahmadiyya Movement  believe that God sent Ahmad as a
Messiah, “a messenger of His in this age who has claimed to
have come in the spirit and power of Jesus Christ. He has
come to call all people around one Faith, i.e. Islam…” The
movement’s founder was Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-
1908). He was born in Qadian, India. He felt that he had a
mandate from God to correct a serious error within
Christianity. Most Christians believe that Jesus is a member
of the Godhead. “…because Jesus, whom God sent as a
Messiah to the Israelites was taken for a God, Divine
jealousy ordained that another man [Ahmad] should be sent as
Messiah so that the world may know that the first Messiah
was nothing more than a weak mortal.”

After his death, the
community elected a series of Khalifas (successors). The
current and “Fourth Successor (Khalifatul Masih IV), to the
Promised Messiah was chosen in the person of Hazrat Mirza
Tahir Ahmad” on 1982-JUN-10. The Ahmadiyya Community
currently has more than 10 million members worldwide. They
are very heavily persecuted in Pakistan. Black Muslim
Movement (BMM): This is largely a black urban movement in
the US. One driving force was a rejection of Christianity as
the religion of the historically oppressing white race. It
was started by Wallace Fard who built the first temple in

Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole) established a
second temple in Chicago and later supervised the creation
of temples in most large cities with significant black
populations. They taught that blacks were racially superior
to whites and that a racial war is inevitable. The
charismatic Malcolm X was perhaps their most famous
spokesperson; he plaid an important role in reversing the
BMM’s anti-white beliefs. In its earlier years, the movement
deviated significantly from traditional Islamic beliefs
(particularly over matters of racial tolerance the status of
the BMM leaders as prophets). This deviation is being
reversed.Islam is growing rapidly and is now followed by
more than 20% of the world’s population. Christianity is not
growing; its popularity has been stuck at about 33% of
the worlds population for many decades. It is in decline in
the United States (in terms of “market share”). Christian
attacks on Islam are inevitable. Most criticisms are not
well grounded in reality:  Islam is often blamed for female
genital mutilation.

But it is obvious that FGM is grounded
in cultural tradition, not religious belief, in those
countries where it is practiced. A number of anti-Islamic
books have been written recently, criticizing some Islamic
countries for lack of religious tolerance Some conservative
Christian web sites include attacks on Islam. They base
their position on the inerrancy of the Bible, and their
belief that Christianity is the only valid religion. An
essay by Ric Llewellyn at dubious beginnings, fanaticism,
irrational, accursed, religious bondage, cults, wicked
doctrines, etc. It is our belief that these attacks are

The main result of these web pages is to
demonstrate the degree of intolerance and hatred held by
their Webmasters; this does not reflect well on Christianity
The media has historically disseminated a very negative
image of Islam. It overwhelmingly reports on the beliefs and
practices of the most conservative wing of the religion.
Many non-Muslims are unaware that a moderate wing even
exists in Islam. A number of anti-defamation groups have
been organized to combat these negative portrayals. CAIR,
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is a leader in
to be fully understood: the universality of suffering to be
abandoned: the desire to have and control things which
causes suffering to be made visible: the supreme truth and
final liberation of nirvana which is achieved as the cause
of suffering is eliminated.

The mind experiences complete
freedom and liberation to be brought into being: the truth
of the eightfold ariya path leading to the cessation of
Buddhism was founded in Northern India by the Buddha,
Siddhartha Gautama. H was born circa 563 in Lumbini which is
in modern-day Nepal. At the age of 29, he left his wife,
children and political involvement’s i order to seek truth;
this was an accepted practice at the time for some men to
leave thei family and lead the life of an ascetic. He
studied Brahminism, but ultimately rejected it.
In 535 BCE, he reached enlightenment and assumed the title
Buddha (one who ha awakened). He is also referred to as the
Sakyamuni, (sage of the Sakya clan) He promoted The Middle
Way, rejecting both extremes of the mortification of the
flesh and of hedonism as paths toward the state of Nirvana.
He had many disciple and accumulated a large public
following by the time of his death in his early
80’s in 483 BCE.

Two and a half centuries later, a council
of Buddhist monks collected his teachings an the oral
traditions of the faith into written form, called the
Tripitaka. This included a very large collection of
commentaries and traditions; most are called Sutra.
Buddhism is a religion which shares few concepts with
Christianity. For example, the do not believe in a
transcendent or immanent or any other type of God or Gods,
the need for a personal savior, the power of prayer, eternal
life in a heaven or hell after death etc. They do believe in
reincarnation: the concept that one must go through many
cycles of birth, living, and death.

After many such cycles,
if a person releases their attachment to desire and the
self, they can attain Nirvana. The Buddha’s Four Noble
Southern Buddhism has 100 million  followers, mainly in
Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and parts of
Vietnam. It started in Sri Lanka when Buddhist missionaries
arrived from India. They promoted the Vibhajjavada school
(Separative Teaching). By the 15th century, this form of the
religion reached almost its present extent.

Concepts and practices include:
Dana – thoughtful, ceremonial giving
Sila – accepting Buddhist teaching and following it in
practice; refraining from killing, stealing, wrong behavior,
use of drugs. On special days, three additional precepts may
be added, restricting adornment, entertainment and comfort.
Karma – the balance of accumulated sin and merit, which will
determine ones future in the present life, and the nature of
the next life to come. The Cosmos – consists of billions of
worlds grouped into clusters; clusters are grouped into
galaxies, which are themselves grouped into super-galaxies.

The universe also has many levels: four underworlds and 21
heavenly realms. Paritta – ritual chanting Worship – of
relics of a Buddha, of items made by a Buddha, or of
symbolic relics. Festivals – days of the full moon, and
three other days during the lunar cycle are celebrated.
There is a new year’s festival, and celebrations tied to the
agricultural year. Pilgrimages – particularly to Buddhist
sites in Sri Lanka and India. Eastern Buddhism is the
predominant religion in China, Japan, Korea and much of
Vietnam. Buddhism’s Mahayana tradition entered China during
the Han dynasty. It found initial acceptance there among the
workers; later, it gradually penetrated the ruling class.

Buddhism reached Japan in the 6th century. It underwent
severe repression during the 1960’s in China during the
Cultural Revolution.  Eastern Buddhism contains many
distinct schools: T’ein-t’ai, Hua-yen, Pure Land teachings,
and the Meditation school. They celebrate New Years, harvest
festivals, and five anniversaries from the lives of Buddha
and of the Bodhissattva Kuan-yin. They also engage in Dana,
Sila, Chanting. Worship and Pilgrimage.  Northern Buddhism
has perhaps 10 million adherents in parts of China,
Mongolia, Russia and Tibet. It entered Tibet circa 640 CE.
Conflict with the native Tibetan religion of Bon caused it
to go largely underground until its revival in the 11th

The heads of the Gelu school of Buddhist teaching
became the Dalai Lama, and ruled Tibet. It has been, until
recently, wrongly dismissed as a degenerate form of Buddhism
Ceremony and ritual are emphasized. They also engage in
Dana, Sila, Chanting. Worship and Pilgrimage. They developed
the practice of searching out a young child at the time of
death of an important teacher.

The child is believed to be
the successor to the deceased teacher. They celebrate New
Years, harvest festivals and anniversaries of five important
events in the life of the Buddha. Buddhist and Tibetan
culture suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution when
an attempt was made to destroy all religious belief.
Circa 2000 BCE, the God of the ancient Israelites
established a divine covenant with Abraham, making him the
patriarch of many nations. From his name, the term Abramic
Religions is derived; these are the four religions which
trace their roots back to Abraham: Judaism, Christianity,
Islam and the Baha’i World Faith. The book of Genesis
describes the events surrounding the lives of the  three
patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Moses was the next
leader of the ancient Israelites. He led his people out of
captivity in Egypt, and received the Law from God.After
decades of wandering through wilderness, Joshua led the
tribes into the promised land, driving out the Canaanites
through a series of military battles. The original tribal
organization was converted into a kingdom by Samuel; its
first king was Saul.

The second king, David, established
Jerusalem as the religious and political center. The third
king, Solomon built the first temple there. Division into
the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of
Judah occurred shortly after the death of Solomon in 922
BCE. Israel fell to Assyria in 722 BCE; Judah fell to the
Babylonians in 587 BCE. The temple was destroyed. Some Jews
returned from captivity under the Babylonians and started to
restore the temple in 536 BCE. Alexander the Great invaded
the area in 332 BCE.

From circa 300 to 63 BCE, Greek became
the language of commerce, and Greek culture had a major
influence on Judaism. In 63 BCE, the Roman Empire took
control of Palestine. Four major  religious sects had formed
by the 1st century AD: the Basusim, Essenes, Pharisees and
Sadducees. Many anticipated the arrival of the Messiah who
would drive the Roman invaders out and restore independence.
Christianity was established initially as a Jewish sect,
centered in Jerusalem.

Paul broke with this tradition and
spread the religion to the Gentiles .Many mini-revolts led
to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 CE. The
Jewish Christians were wiped out or scattered at this time.
The movement started by Paul flourished and quickly evolved
into the religion of Christianity. Jews were scattered
throughout the known world. Their religion was no longer
centered in Jerusalem; Jews were prohibited from setting
foot there. Judaism became decentralized and stopped seeking
converts. The local synagogue became the new center of
Jewish life, and authority shifted from the centralized
teachers, giving rise to Rabbinic Judaism.

The period from
the destruction of the temple onward give rise to heavy
persecution by Christians throughout Europe and Russia. Many
groundless stories were spread, accusing Jews of ritual
murder, the desecration of the Catholic host and continuing
responsibility for the execution of Jesus . Unsubstantiated
rumors continue to be circulated today. In the 1930s and
1940s, Adolph Hitler and the German Nazi party drew on
centuries of anti-Semitism, and upon their own psychotic
beliefs in racial purity. They organized the Holocaust, the
attempted extermination of all Jews in Europe. About 6
million were killed in one of the world’s greatest examples
religious and racial intolerance.The Zionist movement was a
response within all Jewish traditions to centuries of
Christian persecution.


Their initial goal was create a
Jewish homeland in Palestine. The state of Israel was formed
on MAY-18-1948. There are currently about 18 million Jews
throughout the world. They are mainly concentrated in North
America (about 7 million) and Israel (about 4.5 million).
The Tanakh corresponds to the Jewish Scriptures, (often
Testament by Christians). It is composed of three groups of
books: the Torah Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
the Nevi’im, the Prophetic books of Isaiah, Amos, etc. the
Ketuvim, the “Writings” including Kings, Chronicles, etc.The
Talmud contains stories, laws, medical knowledge, debates
about moral choices, etc.

It is composed of material which
comes mainly from two sources:  the Mishnah, 6 “orders”
containing hundreds of chapters, including series of laws
from the Hebrew Scriptures. It was compiled about 200 CE.
the Gemara (one Babylonian and one Palestinian) is
encyclopedic in scope. It includes comments from hundreds of
Rabbis from 200 – 500 CE, explaining the Mishnah with
additional historical, religious, legal, sociological, etc.
material. It often records many different opinions on a
topic without giving a definitive answer.

God is the creator of all that exists; he is one,
incorporeal (without a body), and he alone is to be
worshipped as absolute ruler of the universe. The first five
books of the Hebrew Bible were revealed to Moses by God. It
will not be changed or augmented in the future. God has
communicated to the Jewish people through prophets. God
monitors the activities of humans; he rewards individuals
for good deeds and punishes evil Although Christians base
much of their faith on the same Hebrew Scriptures as Jews,

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