Religion is a very broad concept, and its definition changes from person to person. For most people, faith in a particular god and their ideology is religion. Though in reality, this is not the correct meaning/ definition of religion.
So here we come up with three broad concepts of religion.
Religion as a belief, religion as identity, and religion as a social institution. Fundamentally, religion is an abstract concept in which a category of human pursuit manifests itself in various ways in different cultures, times, and places. The exact definition of religion, according to Oxford University, is "the belief and worship of superhuman controlling power".
However, if you go back to the philosophical meaning of religion, it is connected to behavioralism. Many Greece philosophers described religion by relating it with the social institution, village, or institution. They started believing in a particular superpower or theory of God and started free practicing without any prohibition. So, this became a religion for them.
Thus, it is not easy to pin down exactly what religion is. Still, the one thing that is common in all the religions of the world is that all religions believe there is a superpower who controls us, and we all are the son and daughter of the same God.
As the period of superpower or supremacy commenced, the countries began finding new places and started colonization. The world noticed the wide difference between the religions of east and west.
This difference between religions became the main reason for the war. The west started to prove their God was supreme, and the east did the same as vice versa. Also, over time religion has gained substantial importance and has become a major cause of many wars. This belief is still there that can be noticed in the politics of contemporary times.
Leaders still use the brainwashing and playing of religious cards. So, in true terms, religion should not be about forcing the particular religion as supremacy. Since anything that divides us creates a war-like situation is not a topic of adoring, religion is about respect.
In this millennium, over 6.2 billion people live on the planet earth, and they also describe religion in their own ways. So, here is the list of the most followed religions worldwide.
Christianity is the most followed religion in the world. Since the 1st century, it has become the largest religion in the world. Over 2 billion people follow Christianity. The Christian faith centers on labor, process, end, and regeneration beliefs. Christian believes that there is only one God, and he constructed heaven and the earth. The godhead is divided into three parts first is a father, that is God himself, second is the son that is Jesus Christ, and the third part is the holy spirit. The holy book of Christians is the Bible which outlines the teaching of Jesus, Prophet, and offers instructions on how Christians should live their lives. Christians have very few festivals' - New year, Easter, and Halloween.
Talking about history, it is predicted that Jesus was a real person who was born between 2 B.C and 7 B.C. The same is known by the holy book of "Bible".
According to the text, Jesus was born to a young Jewish virgin named Mary in south Jerusalem. According to scholars, Jesus was raised as Jewish, and according to scholars, he aimed to reform Judaism and not create a new religion. Also, after the age of 30, he started teaching his public ministry.
Moreover, Jesus traveled with 12 apostles, teaching a large group of people and performing for about three years. Their people had seen some miracles and believed in his teachings, which were pure and genuine.
Jesus gave messages in his teachings and in his short stories. Christians still embrace these. Some of his teachings are;
- Love God
- Love your neighbors as yourself
- Forgive others, never take revenge
- Love your enemies
- Ask God for the forgiveness of your sins
- Jesus is the Messiah
- Don't judge others
Jesus' most famous speeches are latterly known as sermons and the mount, in that he summarized many of his moral instructions. Christianity is also divided into many other branches. Previously, Christians were persecuted for their faith by Jewish and Roman leaders. The religious fire broke out in Rome, in which many were brutally killed. Moreover, under the emperor domain, Christianity became illegal. Those who confessed to being Christian were brutally killed. Soon after the fall of Constantinople, there was a shift in Christianity, and religious tolerance shifted to the Roman empire during this time.
Also, during that time, Christians came up with different ideas about how to script and about the roles of the church. Moreover, it is said that the fall of Constantinople was a turning point in Christian history.
The Roman empire deeply believed in Catholicism, but as the roman empire fell and the wars of the crusades took place, the catholic church's power increased. Their power got converted into superpowers, through which they then started to exploit the people. Then soon after that, the reformation period started. Philosophers and teachers began controlling the misguidance of the church. A new religion came up as the branch of Christianity that is protestant religion.
However, this is not considered as rotted or as orthodox as the catholic religion. Though there are several branches of the protestant religion, their core faith is central to Jesus and his teachings.
Islam is the second-largest religion on the planet after Christianity. It has over 1.8 billion followers. In the 7th century, Islam became the youngest of the major world religions. Islam began in Mecca in modern-day Saudi Arabia, during the period of Prophet Muhammad's life. It is also said that Islam means surrender to the will of God, and all the followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims are monothetic, and they also don't believe in idol worship, an all-knowing God, which is known as Allah in Arabic.
Muslims also believe in surrendering complete life to Allah's authorization. Muslims' religious book is the Quran, considered the major holy textbook. Follower's worship Allah by praying and repeating the Quran. They consider that there will be a day of conclusion and life after death. Their tagline is jihad which means struggle.
Moreover, their main Prophet is Muhammad, born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 570 A.D. Muslims believe he was the final Prophet sent by God. It is also believed that once the Prophet Muhammad was meditating in the cave, the angel ordered Muhammad to recite the words of Allah.
Furthermore, Muslims believe that Muhammad continued to receive the signals from Allah, and in 613, he began preaching throughout Mecca. Then in 622, Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina with his companions, and this journey became Hijrah. So, therefore Muslims' Calendar is marked based on this journey, and from there, he continued his teaching till he died. After his death, Islam began to spread rapidly. Soon a series of caliphs became successors to Muhammad. A Muslim leader ran this system, who came to be known as the caliphate. The first caliphate was Abu Bakr, who was in the law of Muhammad. Thus, the proper caliphate system started to spread Islam in the middle east, including Syria, Iraq, Palestine. Muslim religion soon spread widely in a few parts of Asia, Europe, and Africa as well. Then, after some time, the caliphate system collapsed just like the ottoman empire ended, and soon the world war rose. This war divided Muslims into two types- Sunnis and Shiites.
Sunnis acknowledge the first four caliphs as the Prophet Muhammad's righteous successors. However, the Shias believe that Muslims' leadership resided solely with Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, and his decedents. Moreover, Sunnis make up nearly 90 percent of Muslims worldwide.
Talking about the teaching of Islam, they believe in 5 basic pillars that are essential to their faith
There 5 pillars include their belief and faith.
Shahada means to declare one's faith in God and belief in Muhammad.
Salat means to pray five times a day. Zakat means to give the needy one. Hajj means visiting once in your lifetime to hajj (a journey to Mecca), and Sawn means to fast in Ramadan.
Apart from that, Muslims have their own law for running the legal system of Islam in that law. The book clearly mentions how to have a good marriage, how to treat guilty and how to dress up, and so on. However, many Muslims do not acknowledge it.
Hinduism is a belief-based religion. It is the third-largest religion followed globally, with almost 900 million followers of Hinduism. Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world.
Its real origin traces back to the Indus valley, which is currently in Pakistan. The term Hinduism is derived from the term Sindus. This means those who lived across the Indus valley. Moreover, the followers called this religion Santana dharma or eternal path. The real history of Hinduism in India can be traced back to around 1500 B.C. However, in Hinduism, there is no such evidence of dates; their fate dates back to incidences.
This religion is derived from archaeology and comparative philosophy. Its earliest source is RIGVEDA. This is the oldest scripture of Hinduism, written in Vedic Sanskrit in 1500-500 BCE. This vernacular language of Sanskrit served as a vehicle for spreading the religion to other parts of the world.
In the early 21st century, Hinduism had nearly one billion followers worldwide and was a religion of about 80% percent of India's population.
Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. In comparison to other religions, Hinduism culture and faiths are scientific. Hindus accept and celebrate nature, the organic and sometimes pluralistic nature of the tradition too.
Moreover, the expedition of this religion is made possible because of the widely shared Hindu view that truth or reality cannot be encapsulated. Hinduism maintains that truth must be sought in multiple sources and not domestically proclaimed.
Across all Indian religions, the Hindu religion has five elements. The elements include doctrine, practice, society, story, and devotion. These have given shape to the Hindu religion. If you adopt these elements, you will be connected to typical Hinduism.
Here doctrine refers to all the epics and texts of Hinduism. Also, the richest text of Hinduism is Veda, in which most of the intrusions' are for the brahman class. Hindus are divided into varna-based systems in which the brahman class stands in the first position.
The second element is a practice in Hindu culture called puja. Despite such diversity, there is a common ritual behavior that connects Hindus. In Hinduism, they believe in idol worship like (Pratima, murti, or archa), broadly this is called puja. You get God's offering at the end of puja, which is called prasad.
The Third element is a society that has organized Hindu life in society.
Narrative or story is the fourth dimension. It binds Hindus together in a common community of conversation. These are divine stories such as Ram-Sita-Radha-Krishna, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.
The fifth element is the devotion that adds to the continuity of the Hindu experience across time. Also known as bhakti ("sharing" or "devotion"), a vast tradition of a loving God connected with the life and writings of vernacular poet-saints across India.
Buddhism is one of the finest religions. It is the only religion that talks about enlightenment. This religion was founded by Siddhartha Gautam, who also got the title of the buddha. This religion is not only a belief; it is also a philosophy in itself. It was founded more than 2,500 years ago in India, whereas its influence can be felt worldwide- in central Asia, Korea, Japan, and China. Currently, worldwide, there are around 360 million followers of Hinduism, but most scholars consider Buddhism one of the world's major religions.
Buddhists believe in the permeances of the elements that constitute the universe and the existence of the soul. Buddhist doctrine is mostly in the Pali language. The language is also derived from Sanskrit.
Centuries following the founder's death, Buddhism developed in two different directions, represented by two different groups. One group is called Hinayana, and the other is called Mahayana. Though they both have the same belief, one group is more rigid than the other. In Hinayana, there is the lesser vehicle, this group is more conservative, and the other group, Mahayana, is more inclined towards the path of salvation.
Buddhist teachings have been preserved in the Sutta Pitaka collection and the Vinaya Pitaka. Buddha's teaching is known as Dharma. He taught that wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity, and compassion are important virtues. And Buddhists follow five moral precepts. The precepts are commitments to abstain from
- Killing living things
- Taking what is not given
- Sexual misconduct
- Using drugs or alcohol
There are four noble truths told by buddha. The followers follow these.
- Dukkha (the truth of suffering)
- Samudaya (the truth of the cause of suffering)
- Nirhodha (the truth of the end of the suffering)
- Magga (The truth or the path that frees us from suffering).
Thus, this religion is very modest with a holistic sense and endures the real truth. So, followed by a large number of groups.
Sikhism is a monothetic religion. It is based on the philosophy that originated in the Punjab, India, in the late 15th century. The male Sikhs use the surname Singh- which means Lion, and the females use the surname Kaur which means princess.
According to the facts, Sikhism was established by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 1469-1539. The religion was subsequently led by the succession of nine other Gurus. Then, after the death of the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the holy spirit that resided in all these 10 gurus finally transferred itself to the holy scripture of Sikhism. It is believed that this religion was started as a revolt but soon became a revolution. Also, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, at the age of 30, in order to cope with the discrimination based on caste and sex, started Sikhism.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was enlightened and decided to preach his faith for the next 15 years. The religion was very well established by the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev.
He composed hymns collected in the Adi Granth Sahib by Arjan Devji. Aurangzeb did not digest the increasing number of Sikh followers. He expected Guru Tegh Bahadur, who was the successor of Sikhism at that time to surrender and adopt Islam. Aurangzeb even tried to oppress the Sikh religion, but he never became successful in that.
Sikhism has grown spread far and wide with the passage of time. Today around 23 million followers of Sikh exist in the world. Also, Sikhism is one of the largest followed religions worldwide. Sikhs worship the Nirgun form of God.
Sikhs believe that God is omnipresent, and their ideology is against idol worship. God is referred to as Waheguru in Sikhism, and they do not lead an ascetic life as it is not prescribed.
The Sikhs lead their lives by serving God and humanity. There is no discrimination in Sikhism based on caste, creed, or gender. Also, it is crucial to note that Guru Granth Sahib also consists of other Bhakti saints' teachings. These include Farid, Namdev, Surdas, etc.
Guru Nanak Dev established the first Gurudwara at Kartarpur (now in Pakistan). The 10th Guru, Gobind Singh, asked his followers to give up their surnames and adopt Singh and Kaur as surnames. Sikhs also follow the Khalsa Panth, which means there are some rules and regulations for men and women. These were established around 1699 and are as follows
- Kesh (uncut hair)
- Kara (a steel bracelet)
- Kanga (a wooden comb)
- Kaccha - also spelt, Kachh, Kachera (cotton underwear)
- Kirpan (steel sword)
6. Chinese traditional religions
Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were the three basic religions of ancient China. These have individual and collectively influenced Chinese society. These three religions are influenced not only by spirituality but also by government, nature, and art as well. Although their specific beliefs and teachings are at odds with each other, all three unique philosophies jointly make the Chinese traditional religions.
Though few critics also said that the fusion of three religions- Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, is not Chinese's traditional religion. Many Chinese folks mistakenly consider it is a modern idea conceived by contemporary scholars.
The very idea of religion as a differentiated part of culture is new. A collection of deeply ingrained beliefs in Chinese culture is referred to as "traditional Chinese folk religion." Chinese folk religion is centered on forces of nature, particularly its dualistic nature (yin and yang) and on folk deities.
A good life and afterlife are attained through rituals and honoring of ancestors. The central aspect of Chinese folk religion is the performance of rituals for magical purposes. In Chinese folk religion, the belief that two classes of spirits inhabit the universe: Kuei — malevolent yin spirits; and shen — benevolent yang spirits.
The gods of the Chinese folk religion are hardly more than human beings deified, possessed of mysterious and supernatural powers. Though yet far closer to humans than the God of Western Christians. Chinese folk religious beliefs dominate worldwide.
Some argue that Chinese folk religion is in decline because it does not blend well with modern culture. Whereas others argue there are more than 300 million Chinese folk religion believers. The followers of traditional Chinese folk religion have a combination of elements of Confucian ethics, Taoism, veneration of ancestors, worship of local deities, universes, and Buddhist beliefs. In the new century, observers have estimated that as much as 80 percent of the Chinese population believes in some form of traditional folk religion.
7. Primal Indigenous Religion
Primal indigenous religions tend to be the traditions of tribal people, organized in small groups that dwell in villages instead of large cities.
Primal indigenous religion is a religion practiced by the indigenous people or culture. They are generally the tradition of non-literate people. This means they do not depend on scriptures or written teachings as most of the other religions do.
The origins of primal religions are so remote that it is impossible to trace them exactly. Primal indigenous religions believe in nature, and their belief is that divine is everywhere and dwells in everything. They believe in the spirit and the concept of life and death.
There are almost 190 million followers of this religion. The term "primal religion" was introduced by Andrew Walls at the University of Aberdeen in the 1970s. This was introduced to put focus on Eastern forms of religions as found in Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Graham Harvey states that indigenous religions constitute the majority of the world's religions.
Juche is the state religion and philosophy, widely followed by North Korea. The Juche religion was created by the Kim family and continues to justify its rule over the people. The Juche philosophy, also signified in its meaning 'Ju', depicts the owner, or lord, while 'che' implies body, essence or existence, and nature. This meaning is similar to the basic philosophical principle in Korea: "man is the master of everything and decides everything."
Juche ideology is a form of idol worship. In this case, Juche ideology has been developed into a world or a personal view of life. As Goudzwaard said in Gunkel, "when an individual or group of persons has chosen a particular goal and when that goal becomes the only way of giving meaning to life, then, as per the Goudzwaard sayings, "that individual or group is on the way to forming an ideology". He further links idolatry to come together with ideology when the goals set become so crucial that the means of attaining them become idols.
In North Korea, other religions are not permitted, except for the worship of Kim Il-Sung. And, now, around 19 million followers follow this religion. The religion is more or less like Marxism. Its core principles and tactics are all for self-reassessment and the concept of equality and discipline.
Spiritism is the new concept brought by Brazil. Spiritism is a new philosophy or religious movement based on the belief that the dead's souls or spirits exist. They have both the capacity and interest to communicate with the living world. The practice of spiritism is held without exterior trappings. It is based on a Christian principle that God should be adored in spirit and truth. Almost around 14 million followers of spiritualism are in the world, but spirituality doesn't take into consideration this as a form of religion. There is no such source or holy book, but The L'EVANGILE SELON LE is a book based on spiritism in French.
There are around 900 million secular /non-religious/atheists in the world. Here secular means the person who has faith in every religion, and non-religious means the person who has no faith in any religion. Whereas atheist implies to individuals who have no faith in the God of any religion. The numbers of secular/non-religious/atheists are increasing rapidly. Moreover, their numbers are increasing rapidly. People who have been exploited in terms of the lower class's high taxes in the name of religion have completely lost their faith in church and pope. This has led to the rise of a new concept of not believing in God.