Introduction to religion
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Religion is defined as the belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship, a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion. This definition of religion is true to the three major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are known as the "Abrahamic religions" because they traced their history to the covenant God made with Abraham in the Hebrew Bible. Religion is one of the driving forces behind many of the events and attitudes that have shaped our world. Throughout the centuries, laws have been enacted; cities and countries have been created and destroyed; and wars have been fought, all to promulgate or protect one religion or another The origins of Judaism can be traced back to the stories of the Old Testament, or Tanakh. Although these stories cannot be substantiated by other historical means (there are no historical references to the Hebrews until 1230 BCE) careful examination of the Tanakh indicate that Abraham, was the first patriarch. Because of the history of political and religious warfare that has separated them, the underlying unity of Judaism, and Islam is seldom recognized except by scholars. Yet these two great world religions have the same origins, the same central belief in monotheism and to a large extent the same genealogical and scriptural authorities. It is in a greater sense a tale of two sons or two brothers. It is not surprising that these religions should share a common belief of creation and patriarchy, since the roots of these two are to be found in the basin of Mesopotamia, in the "Fertile Crescent" of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. There, in the ancient civilization of Samaria, the descent of the Patriarchs of the Bible can be traced to an historical basis: "Abraham was probably born in the Sumerian City of Ur four thousand years ago a scholar invented a label for the descendents of Shem; he called them Semites. The Jews are a people who trace their descent from the biblical Israelites and who are united by the religion called Judaism. They are not a race; Jewish identity is a mixture of ethnic, national, and religious elements. An individual may become part of the Jewish people by conversion to Judaism; but a born Jew who rejects Judaism or adopts another religion does not entirely lose his Jewish identity. In biblical times the Jews were divided into 12 tribes: Reuben, Simeon (Levi), Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim, and Manasseh. The word Jew is derived from the kingdom of Judah, which included the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. The name Israel referred to the people as a whole and to the northern kingdom of 10 tribes. Today it is used as a collective name for all Jewry and since 1948 for the Jewish state. (Citizens of the state of Israel are called Israelis; not all of them. They find out that Muslims consider "Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus" and many other biblical personages who are known to both Jewish and Christian scripture to be Muslim .This does not mean that Muslims consider these historical figures to have been, literally, followers of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of the Islamic faith. What it does mean is that these men individually surrendered themselves to God and His will. The phrase, "surrendering to God" is the literal meaning of the word "Islam.", the root words in Arabic for both "Islam" and "Muslim" refer to what human beings of faith are called to do, i.e., surrender to God. As this observation suggests, these major world religions have similar roots and commonality. In order to find out more on this topic, this literature search was instigated. Christianity is one of the major religions of mankind. It has been the dominant religion in Europe and America; Christianity has also spread throughout the world and has a greater number of adherents then any other religion. The Jewish teacher known as Jesus of Nazareth founded Christianity. Christianity drew on the expectations for a Messiah common in the region during these centuries. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem, and grew up in the town of Nazareth. He was educated from the Pharisaic school of thought and was practicing as an observant Jew. He was not preaching to non-Jews so therefore only Jews could follow him. They started to think of him as their Messiah. As he traveled through towns in Judea he gathered small groups of followers. He chose twelve from these groups and they became known as the twelve apostles. They traveled around the world preaching. According to the gospels, he created great excitement among the people. In 30 CE Jesus traveled to Jerusalem. There he was hailed as the Messiah. Others denied that he was the Messiah. According to the gospels, Jesus rose from his grave, and went back to his followers for forty days and preaches. By following the teachings of Jesus, all people could be saved from the consequences of their sins. He eventually agreed to have Jesus crucified. All men could be saved from sins before and in the after life. They believe that the people should be good citizens and obey the laws. That he was the messiah and regarded him as a revolutionary. Jesus tells Saul to go to a certain Christian to get healed. Between 45 and 65 CE, he journeyed throughout the eastern Mediterranean region, spreading the teaching of Jesus and founding Christian communities. They both encourage them to practice charity and to care for the poor and outcast. Paul's Epistles to Christian congregations form an important part of the New Testament. In 200 CE there was a civil war in the empire and many people turned to Christianity. The UnIslamic Nation of Islam The mention of the "Nation of Islam" will undoubtedly Cause an immense number of responses in any situation. To some, this organization symbolizes racism. To others, it is seen as a savior of the black community. Regardless of one's opinion of the Nation, though, the differences between Al-Islam (traditional Islam) and the beliefs of the Nation cannot be denied. The Nation of Islam is a social movement. This social movement is undoubtedly rooted in religion, and Its principles are derived from those of traditional Islam, but their basic philosophies are They are so strikingly different that the Nation of Islam cannot be considered Islamic. In 1930, the Nation was founded by an African immigrant who called himself Wallace D. Far Muhammad. He stated that his mission was to take "the black nation to the full range of The black man's possibilities in a world, temporarily dominated by the blue-eyed Devils. This philosophy was carried on to the next leader of the Nation, Elijah Muhammad. The Koran states that, "those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans-whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day doeth right- surely their reward? Is with their Lord, and no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve" (2:62). Zakuh is rejected by the nation, as it believes charity is a "way to benefit the dominant classes of the culture. The rejection of the five basic requirements of Islam is representative of the differences Between the Nation of Islam and traditional Islam. The traditional wording of the Koran, however, states that diversity in race is one of Allah's greatest creations (Koran, 30. Some may argue that the often outrageous methods and beliefs of the Nation of Islam have done more good than harm. The Nation's philosophy clearly states that, "We believe that intermarriage and race mixing should be prohibited. In 1996, Farrakhan organized the Million-Man March which brought over 400,000 black men to the nation's capitol. Islam, on the other hand, is all encompassing. Islam has long been viewed by many in America as a fringe religion. When many Americans here the term Islam or Muslim they associate it with such groups as the Nation of Islam or the Black Muslims. However these groups and others like them often have very little in common with the true Islamic faith. They use the term Islam to generate support for their causes, but in so doing they often destroy the public's view of the main Islamic faith. The People of the Book are an honorary title given to the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. All three religions believe in one God and in his word, delivered through the prophets: Moses received the word of God in the Torah, Jesus and the Gospels and Muhammad and the Quran. The three religions also share a similar belief in prophet hood; many Christians are stunned to hear that many Biblical prophets are also considered Islamic prophets. Judaism is one of the world's oldest religious traditions. Pre-modern Judaism constituted (and traditional Judaism today constitutes) an integrated cultural system of Jewish law, custom, and practice encompassing the totality of individual and communal existence. It is a system of sanctification in which all is to be subsumed under God's rule. Judaism originated in the Middle East, but Jewish communities have existed at one time or another in almost all parts of the world, a result of both voluntary migrations and forced exile or expulsions. Christianity most widely distributed of the world religions, having substantial representation in all the populated continents of the globe. Its total membership may exceed 1.7 billion people. Islam, a major world religion, founded in Arabia and based on the teachings of Muhammad, who is called the Prophet. One who practices Islam is a Muslim. Muslims follow the Koran, the written revelation brought by Muhammad. In Mohammed's time (570?-632), the Arabian Peninsula was inhabited by nomadic Bedouins and city-dwelling Arabs. Muslims also believe in a final judgment when individuals will be judged according to their deeds. They would acknowledge God, agreeing to obey his laws; God, in turn, would acknowledge Israel as his particular people. These Jewish Christians began the first churches, in Jerusalem. The earliest apocalyptic writings were composed during this period.
- David Barrett et al, "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," Oxford University Press, (2001).
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