03-31-2009, 05:09 PM
I would request to post credible information regarding the Major Religions of the World. The objective should be to learn about them not to criticize them.

03-31-2009, 05:15 PM
The exact number of religions in the world is unknown. Best estimates place the number around 4200. Of this number, a dozen have been classified as “major world religions.” The following list mentions the twelve major world religions in alphabetical order:

Baha’I (7 million adherents)

Buddhism (360 million)

Christianity (2 billion)

Confucianism (6 million)

Hinduism (900 million)

Islam (1.3 billion)

Jainism (4 million)

Judaism (14 million)

Shinto (4 million)

Sikhism (23 million)

Daoism (2.7 million)

Zoroastrianism (150,000)
================================================== ==
Classical World Religions Ranked by Internal Religious Similarity:
Most Unified to Most Diverse

1. Baha'i
2. Zoroastrianism
3. Sikhism
4. Islam
5. Jainism
6. Judaism
7. Taoism
8. Shinto
9. Christianity
10. Buddhism
11. Hinduism

03-31-2009, 05:24 PM
Bhai Faith:

The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its founder, Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.

source: bahai dot org

03-31-2009, 08:08 PM
If we study Islam , we will come to know , that one thing is very important and repeated again and again in Islamic teachings , that is....

Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is the last Messenger of Allah.

04-06-2009, 07:49 PM

is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions.

It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago. Zoroastrian worship is not prescriptive. Its followers can choose whether they wish to pray and how.
Zoroaster was born in Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan and founded Zoroastrianism in approximately 1200 BCE.

04-06-2009, 07:54 PM
As for them...........There are neither sins nor sinners in God's eyes and there is no condemnation or damnation in God's heart and thus there will be no Last Day of Judgement.

04-06-2009, 07:59 PM
It is now one of the world's smallest religions with around a quarter of a million followers worldwide. There are 4000 Zoroastrians living in Britain.

* Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world.
* Zoroastrians are not fire-worshippers, as some Westerners wrongly believe. Zoroastrians believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God's light or wisdom.
* Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet, Zoroaster.
* Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day.
* Zoroastrians worship communally in a Fire Temple or Agiary.
* The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta.
* The Avesta can be roughly split into two main sections:
o The Avesta is the oldest and core part of the scriptures, which contains the Gathas. The Gathas are seventeen hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself.
o The Younger Avesta - commentaries to the older Avestan written in later years. It also contains myths, stories and details of ritual observances.
* Zoroastrians are roughly split into two groups:
o The Iranians
o The Parsis

04-06-2009, 08:03 PM
Zoroastrian weddings

There are two stages to a Zoroastrian wedding, whether Parsi or Persian.

In the first stage the bride and bridegroom, as well as their guardians sign a marriage contract. The second stage is the service followed by feasts and the celebrations, which traditionally last from 3 to 7 days.
During the service married female relatives hold over the couple's heads a fine scarf (nowadays usually white). At the same time two crystallized sugar cones are rubbed together, to sweeten the couple's life. Then two parts of the scarf are sewn together with needle and thread to symbolize the uniting of the couple for the rest of their lives.

Traditionally, both bride and the bridegroom dress in white. The colour white is a symbol of purity in Zoroastrianism.

04-06-2009, 08:06 PM
Zoroastrian funerals

Zoroastrians are famous for their tradition of exposure or 'laying out the dead'. In Mumbai the Zoroastrian 'Towers of Silence' have been a focus of interest because it is one of the few places in the world where this tradition can still be upheld.
Zoroastrians believe that as soon as the breath has left it, the body becomes impure. Death is considered to be the work of Angra Mainyu, the embodiment of all that is evil, whereas the earth and all that is beautiful is considered to be the pure work of God. Contaminating the elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) with decaying matter such as a corpse is considered sacrilege.

Instead of burying the corpse, Zoroastrians traditionally laid it out on a purpose built tower (dokhma or 'Tower of Silence') to be exposed to the sun and eaten by birds of prey such as vultures.

In Mumbai, where more than half of India's seventy thousand Parsis live, huge towers have been built and set within fifty-seven acres of forest gardens.

In western countries where exposure is either impractical or illegal, Zoroastrians usually opt for cremation.

04-07-2009, 11:19 AM

04-07-2009, 11:20 AM
Sikhism at a glance

There are 20 million Sikhs in the world, most of whom live in the Punjab province of India. The 2001 census recorded 336,000 Sikhs in the UK.

Sikhism was founded in the 16th century in the Punjab district of what is now India and Pakistan. It was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him.

The most important thing in Sikhism is the internal religious state of the individual.

* Sikhism is a monotheistic religion
* Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals
* Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to:
o keep God in heart and mind at all times
o Live honestly and work hard
o Treat everyone equally
o Be generous to the less fortunate
o Serve others
* The Sikh place of worship is called a Gurdwara
* The Sikh scripture is a book called the Guru Granth Sahib

The tenth Sikh Guru decreed that after his death the spiritual guide of the Sikhs would be the teachings contained in that book, so it now has the status of a Guru, and Sikhs show it the respect they would give to a human Guru.

The community of men and women who have been initiated into the Sikh faith is the Khalsa. The Khalsa celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1999.

Guru Gobind Singh decreed that where Sikhs could not find answers in the Guru Granth Sahib, they should decide issues as a community, based on the principles of their scripture.

04-07-2009, 12:17 PM
Sikh Beliefs

* There is only one God
* God is without form, or gender
* Everyone has direct access to God
* Everyone is equal before God
* A good life is lived as part of a community, by living honestly and caring for others
* Empty religious rituals and superstitions have no value

Living in God and community

Sikhs focus their lives around their relationship with God, and being a part of the Sikh community. The Sikh ideal combines action and belief. To live a good life a person should do good deeds as well as meditating on God.

Sikhs believe that human beings spend their time in a cycle of birth, life, and rebirth. They share this belief with followers of other Indian religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

The quality of each particular life depends on the law of Karma. Karma sets the quality of a life according to how well or badly a person behaved in their previous life-you reap what you sow. The only way out of this cycle, which all faiths regard as painful, is to achieve a total knowledge of and union with God.

04-07-2009, 12:20 PM
The God of grace

Sikh spirituality is centred round this need to understand and experience God, and eventually become one with God.

To do this a person must switch the focus of their attention from themselves to God. They get this state, which is called mukti (liberation), through the grace of God. That means it's something God does to human beings, and not something that human beings can earn. However, God shows people through holy books, and by the examples of saints, the best ways to get close to him.

Truth is the highest of all virtues, but higher still is truthful living.

Sikhs believe that God can't be understood properly by human beings, but he can be experienced through love, worship, and contemplation.

Sikhs look for God both inside themselves and in the world around them. They do this to help themselves achieve liberation and union with God.

04-07-2009, 12:22 PM
Getting close to God

When a Sikh wants to see God, they look both at the created world and into their own heart and soul.

Their aim is to see the divine order that God has given to everything, and through it to understand the nature of God.

Most human beings can’t see the true reality of God because they are blinded by their own self-centred pride (Sikhs call it haumain) and concern for physical things.

04-07-2009, 12:23 PM
God inside us

Sikhs believe that God is inside every person, no matter how wicked they appear, and so everyone is capable of change.

Just as fragrance is in the flower, and reflection is in the mirror, in just the same way, God is within you.

God beyond ourselves

Sikhs believe that God’s message can be found in several ways outside ourselves.

* The message is written in the whole of creation; look at it with open eyes and see the truth of God, for creation is the visible message of God
* Sikhs believe that most of us misunderstand the universe. We think that it exists on its own, when it really exists because God wills it to exist, and is a portrait of God’s own nature
* The message has been shown to us by the Gurus in their lives and in their words
* The message is set down in the teachings of scripture

04-07-2009, 12:23 PM

04-07-2009, 12:24 PM
Living a good life in this world

Sikhs don't think it pleases God if people pay no attention to others and simply devote themselves slavishly to religion.

Sikhism doesn’t ask people to turn away from ordinary life to get closer to God. In fact it demands that they use ordinary life as a way to get closer to God.

A Sikh serves God by serving (seva) other people every day. By devoting their lives to service they get rid of their own ego and pride.

Many Sikhs carry out chores in the Gurdwara as their service to the community. These range from working in the kitchen to cleaning the floor. The Langar, or free food kitchen, is a community act of service.

Sikhs also regard caring for the poor or sick as an important duty of service.

04-07-2009, 12:27 PM
The three duties

The three duties that a Sikh must carry out can be summed up in three words; Pray, Work, Give.

* Nam japna:
o Keeping God in mind at all times.
* Kirt Karna:
o Earning an honest living. Since God is truth, a Sikh seeks to live honestly. This doesn't just mean avoiding crime; Sikhs avoid gambling, begging, or working in the alcohol or tobacco industries.
* Vand Chhakna:
o (Literally, sharing one's earnings with others) Giving to charity and caring for others.

The five vices
Amritsar and the Golden Temple at dusk

Sikhs try to avoid the five vices that make people self-centred, and build barriers against God in their lives.

* Lust
* Covetousness and greed
* Attachment to things of this world
* Anger
* Pride

If a person can overcome these vices they are on the road to liberation.

04-28-2009, 02:49 PM

04-28-2009, 02:51 PM
Islam at a glance

The word Islam means 'submission to the will of God'.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers.

There are several different groups of Muslims, but all of them, in every country and community, regard their faith as a bond between them, and as a major part of their identity.

* Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia.
* Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
* Muslims believe that there is only One God.
* The Arabic word for God is Allah.
* According to Muslims, God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law.
* Jesus, Moses and Abraham are respected as prophets of God.
* They believe that the final Prophet was Muhammad (peace be upon him).
* Muslims believe that Islam has always existed, but for practical purposes, date their religion from the time of the migration of Muhammad.
* Muslims base their laws on their holy book the Qur'an, and the Sunnah.
* The Sunnah is the practical example of Prophet Muhammad.
* There are five basic Pillars of Islam.
* These pillars are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting and a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca.

04-28-2009, 02:58 PM
SUB Divisions in Islam

Sunni and Shi'a
The words Sunni and Shia appear regularly in stories about the Muslim world but few people know what they really mean. The division between the Sunnis and the Shia is the largest and oldest in the history of Islam.

While Sufism, or Tasawwuf as it is known in the Muslim world, is Islamic mysticism. Non-Muslims often mistake Sufism as a sect of Islam. Sufism is more accurately described as an aspect or dimension of Islam (one can be a Sunni and a Sufi or a Shia and a Sufi).

04-28-2009, 03:07 PM

They both agree on the fundamentals of Islam and share the same Holy Book (The Qur'an), but there are differences mostly derived from their different historical experiences, political and social developments, as well as ethnic composition.

These differences originate from the question of who would succeed the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the emerging Muslim community after his death.

The Prophet Muhammad

When the Prophet died in the early 7th century he left not only the religion of Islam but also a community of about one hundred thousand Muslims organised as an Islamic state on the Arabian Peninsula. It was the question of who should succeed the Prophet and lead the fledgling Islamic state that created the divide.

The larger group of Muslims chose Abu Bakr, a close Companion of the Prophet, as the Caliph (politico-social leader) and he was accepted as such by much of the community which saw the succession in political and not spiritual terms. However another smaller group, which also included some of the senior Companions, believed that the Prophet's son-in-law and cousin, Ali, should be Caliph. They understood that the Prophet had appointed him as the sole interpreter of his legacy, in both political and spiritual terms. In the end Abu Bakr was appointed First Caliph.
Leadership claims

Both Shi'as and Sunnis have good evidence to support their understanding of the succession. Sunnis argue that the Prophet chose Abu Bakr to lead the congregational prayers as he lay on his deathbed, thus suggesting that the Prophet was naming Abu Bakr as the next leader. The Shi'as' evidence is that Muhammad stood up in front of his Companions on the way back from his last Hajj, and proclaimed Ali the spiritual guide and master of all believers. Shi'a reports say he took Ali's hand and said that anyone who followed Muhammad should follow Ali.

Muslims who believe that Abu Bakr should have been the Prophet's successor have come to be known as Sunni Muslims. Those who believe Ali should have been the Prophet's successor are now known as Shi'a Muslims. It was only later that these terms came into use. Sunni means 'one who follows the Sunnah' (what the Prophet said, did, agreed to or condemned). Shi'a is a contraction of the phrase 'Shiat Ali', meaning 'partisans of Ali'.

The use of the word "successor" should not be confused to mean that those leaders that came after the Prophet Muhammad were also prophets - both Shi'a and Sunni agree that Muhammad was the final prophet.

04-28-2009, 03:10 PM
Seeds of division

Ali did not initially pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr. A few months later, and according to both Sunni and Shi'a belief, Ali changed his mind and accepted Abu Bakr, in order to safeguard the cohesion of the new Islamic State.

The Second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, was appointed by Abu Bakr on his death, followed by the third Caliph, Uthman ibn 'Affan, who was chosen from six candidates nominated by Umar.

Ali was eventually chosen as the fourth Caliph following the murder of Uthman. He moved the capital of the Islamic state from Medina to Kufa in Iraq. However, his Caliphate was opposed by Aisha, the favoured wife of the Prophet and daughter of Abu Bakr, who accused Ali of being lax in bringing Uthman's killers to justice. In 656 CE this dispute led to the Battle of the Camel in Basra in Southern Iraq, where Aisha was defeated. Aisha later apologised to Ali but the clash had already created a divide in the community.
Widening of the divide

Islam's dominion had already spread to Syria by the time of Ali's caliphate. The governor of Damascus, Mu'awiya, angry with Ali for not bringing the killers of his kinsman Uthman to justice, challenged Ali for the caliphate. The famous Battle of Siffin in 657 demonstrates the religious fervour of the time when Mu'awiya's soldiers flagged the ends of their spears with verses from the Qur'an.

Ali and his supporters felt morally unable to fight their Muslim brothers and the Battle of Siffin proved indecisive. Ali and Mu'awiya agreed to settle the dispute with outside arbitrators. However this solution of human arbitration was unacceptable to a group of Ali's followers who used the slogan "Rule belongs only to Allah", justified by the Qur'anic verse:

The decision is for Allah only. He telleth the truth and He is the Best of Deciders Qur'an

This group, known as the Kharijites, formed their own sect that opposed all contenders for the caliphate. In 661 the Kharijites killed Ali while he was praying in the mosque of Kufa, Iraq. In the years that followed, the Kharijites were defeated in a series of uprisings. Around 500,000 descendents of the Kharijites survive to this day in North Africa, Oman and Zanzibar as a sub-sect of Islam known as the Ibadiyah.

Shortly after the death of Ali, Mu'awiya, assumed the Caliphate of the Islamic state, moving the capital from Kufa to Damascus. Unlike his predecessors who maintained a high level of egalitarianism in the Islamic state, Mu'awiya's Caliphate was monarchical. This set the tone for the fledgling Ummayad dynasty (c.670-750 CE) and in 680 on the death of Mu'awiya, the Caliphate succeeded to his son Yazid.

About the same time, Hussein, Ali's youngest son from his marriage to Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, and the third Shi'a Imam, was invited by the people of Kufa in Iraq to become their leader. Hussein set off for Kufa from his home in Medina with his followers and family, but was met by Yazid's forces in Karbala before reaching his destination.

Despite being hopelessly outnumbered, Hussein and his small number of companions refused to pay allegiance to Yazid and were killed in the ensuing battle. Hussein is said to have fought heroically and to have sacrificed his life for the survival of Shi'a Islam.

The Battle of Karbala is one of the most significant events in Shi'a history, from which Shi'a Islam draws its strong theme of martyrdom. It is central to Shi'a identity even today and is commemorated every year on the Day of Ashura. Millions of pilgrims visit the Imam Hussein mosque and shrine in Karbala and many Shi'a communities participate in symbolic acts of self- flagellation.

04-28-2009, 03:14 PM
Sunni and Shi'a expansion

Sunni Islam responded with the emergence of four popular schools of thought on religious jurisprudence (fiqh). These were set down in the 7th and 8th centuries CE by the scholars of the Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki and Shaafii schools. Their teachings were formulated to find Islamic solutions to all sorts of moral and religious questions in any society, regardless of time or place and are still used to this day.

The Ummayad dynasty was followed by the Abbasid dynasty (c. 758-1258 CE). In these times the Caliphs, in contrast to the first four, were temporal leaders only, deferring to religious scholars (or uleama) for religious issues.

Sunni Islam continued through the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties to the powerful Mughal and Ottoman empires of the 15th to 20th centuries. It spread east through central Asia and the Indian sub-continent as far as the Indonesian archipelago, and west towards Africa and the periphery of Europe. The Sunnis emerged as the most populous group and today they make up around 85% of the one billion Muslims worldwide.
Shi'a expansion and leadership

Shia Expansion

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Shi'a community continued with 'Imams' believed to be divinely appointed from the Prophet's Family. Unlike the Sunni Caliphs, the Shi'a Imams generally lived in the shadow of the state and were independent of it.

Muhammad al-Muntazar al-Mahdi was the Twelfth Imam. The Shi'a believe that as a young boy, he was hidden in a cave under his father's house in Samarra to avoid persecution. He disappeared from view, and according to Shi'a belief, has been hidden by God until he returns at the end of time. This is what Shi'as call the Major Occultation.

(Note: While the information provided is the position of the largest Shi'a subdivision, that of The Twelvers, other Shi'a groups, such as the Ismailis, hold differing views.)

In the absence of the Mahdi, the rightful successor to the Prophet, the Shi'a community was led, as it is today, by living scholars usually known by the honourable title Ayatollah, who act as the representatives of the Hidden Imam on earth. Shi'a Muslims have always maintained that the Prophet's family are the rightful leaders of the Islamic world.

There are significant differences between scholars of Shi'a Islam on the role and power of these representatives. A minority believe the role of the representative is absolute, generally known as Wilayat Faqih. The majority of Shi'a scholars, however, believe their power is relative and confined to religious and spiritual matters.

Although the Shi'a have never ruled the majority of Muslims, they have had their moments of glory. The 9th century Fatimid Ismaili dynasty in Egypt and North Africa, when Cairo's prestigious Al-Azhar University was founded and the 16th century CE Safavid Dynasty which engulfed the former Persian Empire and made Shi'a Islam the official religion.

06-09-2009, 06:56 PM
kia khial hai sathioou