Understanding religions


Natalie Larimer, Online Sub-Editor

There are over 4,200 religions in the world, however most people I talk to don’t even understand the basic practices of the five that we generally hear about. Those five are Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I am going to sum up each of the major religions in a few sentences.

Buddhism: Buddhism focuses on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha (“the awakened one”) who lived in the 4th century BC. Buddha taught about how humans could end their suffering by taking the ignorance and greed out of their lives, and the way to do that was through understanding and the seeing of Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths, with the ultimate goal of achieving Nirvana (no, not the band. Nirvana according to Buddha was the stillness of the mind after you’ve gotten that greed and ignorance out.)

Hinduism: Hinduism is the dominant religion on the Indian subcontinent that has many different traditions. Hinduism is more of a way of thinking through intellectual and philosophical points of view, rather than a firm set of beliefs. They focus on “daily morality” based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Karma is the “what goes around, comes around” belief and dharma is what makes life and the universe possible.

Judaism: Judaism is a monotheistic (one god, as you should remember from World Studies) religion that uses the Torah as the foundational text. In the Torah, it is described that Moses, the most important prophet of Judaism, led the Israelites (later known as Jews) out of slavery. They were then promised safety granted by God if they remained faithful to him, which has carried through the generations to the Jewish people today.

Christianity: Christianity is another monotheistic religion that also worships the Jewish God. They use the Torah as the Old Testament in the Bible, which includes the New Testament which tells the story of Jesus, whom they believe to be God’s son who walked the earth and performed miracles. Christianity is based on the belief of the triune god, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and when Jesus walked the earth, he was 100% man and 100% God.

Islam: Islam is yet another monotheistic religion, where their holy book is the Qur’an which is believed to be the word of God, whom they call Allah. According to their beliefs, the prophet Muhammad had been sent by Allah to lead humanity in the right way, and he heard the word of God and wrote it into the Qur’an. Believers of Islam are called Muslims and they practice the oneness of God, oneness of man, and the oneness of the Message.

These are incredibly short and summarized versions of these religions. They are all much more than my paragraphs, but these are the basics, which you should know.