Comparative religion

Last updated

Part of a series on
Anthropology of religion
Mural religious painting, OaxacaDSC02269.JPG
Ancient statues discovered in Peru
Social and cultural anthropology

Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religion yields a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophical concerns of religion such as ethics, metaphysics, and the nature and forms of salvation. Studying such material is meant to give one a broadened and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual, and divine. [1]

Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Ethics branch of philosophy that systematizes, defends, and recommends concepts of right and wrong conduct

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology.

Metaphysics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.

Contents

In the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification [2] of the main world religions includes Middle Eastern religions (including Iranian religions), Indian religions, East Asian religions, African religions, American religions, Oceanic religions, and classical Hellenistic religions. [2]

Major religious groups Religious movement with major international spread

The world's principal religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups, although this is by no means a uniform practice. This theory began in the 18th century with the goal of recognizing the relative levels of civility in societies.

Three major religious groups originated in the Middle East. Smaller minority religions, such as the Bahá'í Faith, Druze, Nusairism, Manichaeism, Sabianism, Bábism, Yazidism, Mandaeism, Gnosticism, Yarsanism, Samaritanism, Shabakism, Ishikism, Ali-Illahism, Alevism, Yazdânism and Zoroastrianism are also present in the Middle East.

Iranian religions are religions which originated in Greater Iran.

History

Social scientists in the 19th century took a strong interest in comparative and "primitive" religion through the work of Max Müller, Edward Burnett Tylor, William Robertson Smith, James George Frazer, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Rudolf Otto. [3]

Max Müller German-born philologist and orientalist

Friedrich Max Müller, generally known as Max Müller, was a German-born philologist and Orientalist, who lived and studied in Britain for most of his life. He was one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies and the discipline of Study of religions. Müller wrote both scholarly and popular works on the subject of Indology. The Sacred Books of the East, a 50-volume set of English translations, was prepared under his direction. He also promoted the idea of a Turanian family of languages.

Edward Burnett Tylor English anthropologist

Sir Edward Burnett Tylor was an English anthropologist, the founder of cultural anthropology.

William Robertson Smith Scottish orientalist and minister of the Free Church of Scotland

William Robertson Smith was a Scottish orientalist, Old Testament scholar, professor of divinity, and minister of the Free Church of Scotland. He was an editor of the Encyclopædia Britannica and contributor to the Encyclopaedia Biblica. He is also known for his book Religion of the Semites, which is considered a foundational text in the comparative study of religion.

Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, says that

Nicholas Robert Michael de Lange is Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Cambridge.

The comparative study of religions is an academic discipline which has been developed within Christian theology faculties, and it has a tendency to force widely differing phenomena into a kind of strait-jacket cut to a Christian pattern. The problem is not only that other 'religions' may have little or nothing to say about questions which are of burning importance for Christianity, but that they may not even see themselves as religions in precisely the same way in which Christianity sees itself as a religion. [4]

Geographical classification

According to Charles Joseph Adams, in the field of comparative religion, a common geographical classification discerns [2] the main world religions as follows: [2]

  1. Middle Eastern religions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and a variety of ancient cults;
  2. East Asian religions, the religious communities of China, Japan, and Korea, and consisting of Confucianism, Daoism, the various schools of Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”) Buddhism, and Shintō;
  3. Indian religions, including early Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, and sometimes also the Theravada (“Way of the Elders”) Buddhism and the Hindu- and Buddhist-inspired religions of South and Southeast Asia;
  4. African religions, the ancient belief systems of the various indigenous peoples of Africa, excluding ancient Egyptian religion, which is considered to belong to the ancient Middle East;
  5. American religions, the beliefs and practices of the various Indigenous peoples of the two American continents;
  6. Oceanic religions, the religious systems of the peoples of the Pacific islands, Australia, and New Zealand; and
  7. Classical religions of ancient Greece and Rome and their Hellenistic descendants.

Middle Eastern religions

Abrahamic or Western Asian religions

In the study of comparative religion, the category of Abrahamic religions consists of the three monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, which claim Abraham (Hebrew Avraham אַבְרָהָם; Arabic Ibrahim إبراهيم ) as a part of their sacred history. Smaller religions such as Bahá'í Faith that fit this description are sometimes included but are often omitted. [5]

The original belief in the God of Abraham eventually became strictly monotheistic present-day Rabbinic Judaism. Christians believe that Christianity is the fulfillment and continuation of the Jewish Old Testament. Christians believe that Jesus (Hebrew Yeshua יֵשׁוּעַ) is the Messiah (Christ) foretold in the Old Testament prophecy, and believe in subsequent New Testament revelations based on the divine authority of Jesus in Christian belief (as the Incarnation of God). Islam believes the present Christian and Jewish scriptures have been corrupted over time and are no longer the original divine revelations as given to the Jewish people and to Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. For Muslims, the Qur'an is the final, complete revelation from God (Arabic الله Allah ), who believe it to have been revealed to Muhammad alone, who is believed by Muslims to be the final prophet of Islam, and the Khatam an-Nabiyyin, meaning the last of the prophets ever sent by Allah ("seal of the prophets"). Based on the Muslim figure of the Mahdī, the ultimate savior of humankind and the final Imām of the Twelve Imams, Ali Muhammad Shirazi, later known as Bab, created the Bábí movement out of the belief that he was the gate to the Twelfth Imām. This signaled a break with Islam and started a new religious system, Bábism. However, in the 1860s a split occurred after which the vast majority of Bábís who considered Mirza Husayn `Ali or Bahá'u'lláh to be Báb's spiritual successor founded the Bahá'í Movement, while the minority who followed Subh-i-Azal came to be called Azalis. [6] The Bahá'í division eventually became a full-fledged religion of its own, the Bahá'í Faith. In comparison to the other Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the number of adherents for Bahai faith and other minor Abrahamic religions are not very significant.

Out of the three major Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Judaism are the two religions that diverge the most in theology and practice.

The historical interaction of Islam and Judaism started in the 7th century CE with the origin and spread of Islam. There are many common aspects between Islam and Judaism, and as Islam developed, it gradually became the major religion closest to Judaism. As opposed to Christianity, which originated from interaction between ancient Greek, Roman, and Hebrew cultures, Judaism is very similar to Islam in its fundamental religious outlook, structure, jurisprudence and practice. [7] There are many traditions within Islam originating from traditions within the Hebrew Bible or from post-biblical Jewish traditions. These practices are known collectively as the Isra'iliyat . [8]

The historical interaction between Christianity and Islam connects fundamental ideas in Christianity with similar ones in Islam. Islam accepts many aspects of Christianity as part of its faith with some differences in interpretation and rejects other aspects. Islam believes the Qur'an is the final revelation from God and a completion of all previous revelations, including the Bible.

Iranian religions

Several important religions and religious movements originated in Greater Iran, that is, among speakers of various Iranian languages. They include Mithraism, Ætsæg Din, Yazdanism, Ahl-e Haqq, Zurvanism, Mandaeism, Manichaeism, and Mazdakism.

Indian religions

The Rig Veda is one of the oldest Vedic texts. Shown here is a Rig Veda manuscript in Devanagari, early nineteenth century. Rigveda MS2097.jpg
The Rig Veda is one of the oldest Vedic texts. Shown here is a Rig Veda manuscript in Devanagari, early nineteenth century.

In the study of comparative religion, the category of Indian religions consists of all the religions that originated in South Asia. Most scholars believe that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] with origins perhaps as far back as to the prehistoric times, [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] or 5000 years. [26] So "the kinship of the religions of India stems from the fact that Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs look back to Hinduism as their common mother." [27]

Adi Shankaracharya was an early 8th century philosopher and theologian [28] who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. [29] [30] [note 1] Gautama Buddha is mentioned as an Avatar of Vishnu in the Puranic texts of Hinduism. Most Hindus believe the Buddha accepted and incorporated many tenets of Hinduism in his doctrine, however, Buddhists disagree and state there was no such thing as Hinduism at the time of Buddha and in fact, "Indeed, it absorbed so many Buddhist traits that it is virtually impossible to distinguish the latter in medieval and later Hinduism." [32] Prominent modern Hindu reformers such as Mahatma Gandhi [33] and Vivekananda [34] acknowledge Buddhist influence. Gandhi, like Hindus himself did not believe Buddha established a non-Hindu tradition. He writes, "I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism." [35] Zoroastrianism too is an Indian religion and its founder, Zarathushtra Spitama, was a Kashmiri Pandit born in Kashmir.[ citation needed ] Yungdrung Bon is another Indian religion and its founder, Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, was born in Dardistan.

East Asian or Taoic religions

The Chinese character depicting Tao, the central concept in Taoism Tao.svg
The Chinese character depicting Tao , the central concept in Taoism

A Taoic religion is a religion, or religious philosophy, that focuses on the East Asian concept of Tao ("The Way"). This forms a large group of religions including Taoism, Confucianism, Jeung San Do, Shintoism, I-Kuan Tao, Chondogyo, and Chen Tao. In large parts of East Asia, Buddhism has taken on some taoic features.

Tao can be roughly stated to be the flow of the universe, or the force behind the natural order. It is believed to be the influence that keeps the universe balanced and ordered and is associated with nature, due to a belief that nature demonstrates the Tao. The flow of Ch'i , as the essential energy of action and existence, is compared to the universal order of Tao. Following the Tao is also associated with a "proper" attitude, morality and lifestyle. This is intimately tied to the complex concept of De , or literally "virtue" or "power." De is the active expression of Tao.

Taoism and Ch'an Buddhism for centuries had a mutual influence on each other in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. These influences were inherited by Zen Buddhism when Ch'an Buddhism arrived in Japan and adapted as Zen Buddhism.

Comparing traditions

Bahá'í Faith

Buddhism

Christianity

Mormonism

Confucianism

Hinduism

Islam

Jainism

Judaism

Paganism and Neopaganism

Sikhism

Taoism

Zoroastrianism

See also

Related Research Articles

Religious conversion change in religion

Religious conversion is the adoption of a set of beliefs identified with one particular religious denomination to the exclusion of others. Thus "religious conversion" would describe the abandoning of adherence to one denomination and affiliating with another. This might be from one to another denomination within the same religion, for example, from Baptist to Catholic Christianity or from Shi’a to Sunni Islam. In some cases, religious conversion "marks a transformation of religious identity and is symbolized by special rituals".

Universalism is the philosophical and theological concept that some ideas have universal application or applicability. A community that calls itself universalist may emphasize the universal principles of most religions, and accept others in an inclusive manner. It is centered on the belief in a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine.

These are articles that list people of a particular religious or political belief or other worldview.

Many Wikipedia articles on religious topics are not yet listed on this page. If you cannot find the topic you are interested in on this page, it still may already exist; you can try to find it using the "Search" box. If you find that it exists, you can edit this page to add a link to it.

Proselytism is the act or fact of religious conversion, or actions inviting this. The word proselytize is derived from the Greek language prefix προσ- and the verb ἔρχομαι in the form of προσήλυτος. Historically in the Koine Greek Septuagint and New Testament, the word proselyte denoted a Gentile who was considering conversion to Judaism. Though the word proselytism originally referred to Judaism, it now refers to the attempt of any religion or religious individuals to convert people to their beliefs, or any attempt to convert people to a different point of view, religious or not. Proselytism is illegal in some countries.. However, the right to convert to another religion and to manifest religion is enshrined in Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The term is generally understood as pejorative, by contrast with evangelism which is viewed as a term of approval. The World Council of Churches has indicated that, used pejoratively, proselytism refers to attempts at conversion by 'unjust means that violate the conscience of the human person', such as by coercion or bribery.

Christianity and other religions Christianitys relationship with other world religions, and the differences and similarities.

Christianity and other religions documents Christianity's relationship with other world religions, and the differences and similarities.

In the field of comparative religion, many scholars, academics, religious figures have looked at the relationships between Hinduism and other religions

World religions five or more largest and most widespread religious movements

World religions is a category used in the study of religion to demarcate the five—and in some cases six—largest and most internationally widespread religious movements. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism are always included in the list, being known as the "Big Five". Some scholars also include another religion, such as Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, or the Bahá'í Faith, in the category.

Spirit of God may refer to:

Eastern religions

The Eastern religions are the religions that originated in East, South and Southeast Asia and thus have dissimilarities with Western religions. This includes the East Asian religions, Indian religions as well as animistic indigenous religions.

Vegetarianism and religion Religious practices involving not eating meat

Vegetarianism is strongly linked with a number of religions that originated in ancient India. In Jainism, vegetarianism is mandatory for everyone; in Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, it is advocated by some influential scriptures and religious authorities. Comparatively, in the Abrahamic religions, the Bahá'í Faith and Dharmic religions such as Sikhism, vegetarianism is less commonly viewed as a religious obligation, although in all these faiths there are groups actively promoting vegetarianism on religious grounds.

Religion in Nepal religion in Nepal

Religion in Nepal encompasses a range of groups and beliefs; however, Nepal is predominantly a "Hindu country" with Hinduism being the main religion accounting for 81.3% of the overall population as of 2011. According to a survey, Nepal is the most religious Hindu nation through out the world with most of the important Hindu pilgrimage centres are concentrated in this country. It is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nation, and therefore a secular state through democracy. Shiva is widely regarded as the guardian deity of Nepal. Nepal is home to the world-famous Pashupatinath Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Where Hindus through out the world come her for pilgrimage purpose. According to Hindu mythology goddess Sita of the epic ramayana was born in mithila kingdom of King Janaka Raja. The national animal of Nepal is the cow, which is considered a sacred animal in Hinduism. Because of this, the slaughter of cows is illegal in Nepal.

Asia is the largest and most populous continent and the birthplace of many religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism. All major religious traditions are practiced in the region and new forms are constantly emerging. Asia is noted for its diversity of culture. Islam is the largest religion in Asia with approx. 1.1 billion adherents.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes called Abrahamic religions because they all accept the tradition of the God that revealed himself to the prophet Abraham. The theological traditions of all Abrahamic religions are thus to some extent influenced by the depiction of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, and the historical development of monotheism in the history of Judaism.

A Holy City is a city north to the history or faith of a specific religion. Such cities may also contain at least one headquarters complex which constitutes a major destination of human traffic, or pilgrimage to the city, especially for major ceremonies and observances. A holy city is a symbolic city, representing attributes beyond its natural characteristics. Marketing experts have suggested that holy cities may be the oldest brands, and more specifically, place brands because they have value added via the perception of religious adherents.

Religion in India Religions in the modern nation of India

Religion in India is characterised by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. India is a secular state with no state religion. The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four of the world's major religions; namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population of India practices Hinduism, 14.2% adheres to Islam, 2.3% adheres to Christianity, and 1.7% adheres to Sikhism. Zoroastrianism and Judaism also have an ancient history in India, and each has several thousands of Indian adherents. India has the largest population of people adhering to Zoroastrianism and Bahá'í Faith in the world, even though these religions are not native to India. Many other world religions also have a relationship with Indian spirituality, such as the Baha'i faith which recognises the Krishna and Buddha as manifestations of the God Almighty. Throughout India's history, religion has been an important part of the country's culture. Religious diversity and religious tolerance are both established in the country by the law and custom; the Constitution of India has declared the right to freedom of religion to be a fundamental right.

Water and religion

Water is considered a purifier in most religions.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to theology:

Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions. It is contrasted by the idea of multiple religious belonging and polytheism, respectively.

References

  1. "Human beings' relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, spiritual, and divine" Encyclopædia Britannica (online, 2006), cited after "Definitions of Religion". Religion facts.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Charles Joseph Adams, Classification of religions: geographical, Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. Hans Kippenberg, Discovering Religious History in the Modern Age (2001).
  4. Nicholas de Lange, Judaism, Oxford University Press, 1986
  5. Why Abrahamic? Archived 8 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at the University of Wisconsin
  6. "But the upshot of the whole matter is, that out of every hundred Bábís probably not more than three or four are Ezelís [sic], all the rest accepting Behá'u'lláh [sic] as the final and most perfect manifestation of the Truth." (Browne (1889) p. 351)
  7. Rabbi David Rosen, Jewish-Muslim Relations, Past and Present Archived 16 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine , November 2003
  8. Rabbi Justin Jaron Lewis, Islam and Judaism Archived 5 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine , October 2001
  9. P. 386 Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care By Margaret M. Andrews, Joyceen S. Boyle
  10. P. 484 Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions By Wendy Doniger, M. Webster, Merriam-Webster, Inc
  11. P. 285 Communication for Development in the Third World By Srinivas R. Melkote, H. Leslie Steeves
  12. P. xvi The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism By Linda Johnsen
  13. P. 219 Faith, Religion & Theology By Brennan Hill, Paul F. Knitter, William Madges
  14. P. 72 Multicultural Clients By Sybil M. Lassiter
  15. P. 15 Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation By Ian Stevenson
  16. P. 6 Hinduism By Sue Penney
  17. P. 22 The Best Guide to Eastern Philosophy and Religion By Diane Morgan
  18. P. 212 Alternative Religions By Stephen Hunt
  19. P. 35 Common Spirit Common Ground By Michael Strange
  20. P. 72 Canadian and World Politics By John Ruypers, Ruypers, Austin, Carter, Murphy
  21. P. 186 Information Please Almanac, Atlas and Yearbook
  22. P. 6 The World's Great Religions By Yoshiaki Gurney Omura, Selwyn Gurney Champion, Dorothy Short
  23. P. 169 The Encyclopedia of Religion By Mircea Eliade, Charles J. Adams
  24. P. 585 The New Encyclopaedia Britannica By Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc 1987
  25. P. xxv The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Religions By Brandon Toropov, Luke Buckles
  26. P. 22 The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geography By Joseph Gonzalez, Michael D Smith, Thomas E. Sherer
  27. Religions of the World S. Vernon McCasland, Grace E. Cairns, David C. Yu
  28. "Shankara | Indian philosopher". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  29. Sharma 1962, p. vi.
  30. 1 2 3 Comans 2000, p. 163.
  31. MLA style: "monasticism." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 14 Aug. 2007 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-38700>.
  32. “owes on eternal debt of gratitude to that great teacher,”Mahatma Gandhi and Buddhism Y.P. Anand An Encounter with Buddhism http://www.iop.or.jp/0414/anand.pdf Archived 10 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  33. He is the ideal Karma-Yogi, acting entirely without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born; beyond compare the greatest combination of heart and brain that ever existed, the greatest soul-power that has ever been manifested. Essay, Ideal Karma Yogi http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/5208/karmayoga/ideal.html
  34. P. 17 Gandhi By Ronald Terchek

Further reading

  1. Modern scholarship places Shankara in the earlier part of the 8th century CE (c. 700–750). [30] Earlier generations of scholars proposed 788–820 CE. [30] Other proposals are 686–718 CE,[ citation needed ] 44 BCE, [31] or as early as 509–477 BCE.