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.
Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life".
Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.
Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of a deity, gods, or goddesses), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, religious music, religious art, sacred dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.
Origins and development
The origin of religion is uncertain. There are a number of theories regarding the subsequent origins of religious practices. According to anthropologists John Monaghan and Peter Just, "Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs."
The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group.
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide. About 84% of the world's population is affiliated with Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or some form of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.
Abrahamic religions are monotheistic religions which descend from Abraham.
Judaism - is the oldest Abrahamic religion, originating in the people of ancient Israel and Judea. The Torah is its foundational text, and is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible.
Christianity - is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (1st century) as presented in the New Testament. The Christian faith is essentially faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and as Savior and Lord.
Islam - is based on the Qur'an, one of the holy books and on the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (7th century CE). Islam is based on the unity of all religious philosophies and accepts Abrahamic prophets of Judaism, Christianity and other Abrahamic religions before Muhammad.
Bahá'í Faith - Founded in 19th-century Iran, it teaches the unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as additional prophets (Buddha, Mahavira), including its founder Bahá'u'lláh.
East Asian religions (also known as Far Eastern religions or Taoic religions) consist of several religions of East Asia which make use of the concept of Tao (in Chinese) or Dō (in Japanese or Korean).
Taoism and Confucianism - as well as Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese religion are influenced by Chinese thought.
Chinese Folk religion - the indigenous religions of all the populations of the Chinese cultural sphere. It includes the syncretism of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, Wuism, as well as many new religious movements such as Chen Tao, Falun Gong and Yiguandao.
Indian religions are practiced or were founded in the Indian subcontinent. They are sometimes classified as the dharmic religions, as they all feature dharma, the specific law of reality and duties expected according to the religion.
Hinduism - also called Vaidika Dharma, the dharma of the Vedas. Hinduism is one of the most ancient of still-active religions, with origins perhaps as far back as prehistoric times. Hinduism is not a monolithic religion but a religious category containing dozens of separate philosophies.
Jainism - Taught primarily by Rishabhanatha (the founder of ahimsa) is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence, truth and anekantavada for all forms of living beings in this universe; which helps them to eliminate all the Karmas, and hence to attain freedom from the cycle of birth and death (saṃsāra), that is, achieving nirvana.
Buddhism - Founded by Siddhartha Gautama (5th century BCE). Buddhists generally agree that Gotama aimed to help sentient beings achieve nirvana and end their suffering (dukkha) by understanding the true nature of phenomena, escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth.
Sikhism - Sikhism is a panentheistic religion founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh gurus in 15th-century Punjab. It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million Sikhs.
Indigenous religions or folk religions refers to a broad category of traditional religions characterized by shamanism, animism and ancestor worship, "handed down from generation to generation…" closely associated with a particular group of people, ethnicity or tribe; they often have no formal creeds or sacred texts.
African traditional religion encompasses the traditional religious beliefs of people in Africa. These religions include the Akan, Serer, Dinka and Yorba religions, as well as the mythologies of Bantu, Dahomey (Fon), Efik, Bushongo, Mbuti (Pygmy), Lugbara, Lotuko, Akamba, Masai, Malagasy, Tumbuka, and Zulu mythology. In north Africa, Berber and ancient Egyptian.
Iranian religions are ancient religions whose roots predate the Islamization of Greater Iran. Nowadays these religions are practiced only by minorities.
New religious movements
The Bahá'í Faith teaches the unity of all religious philosophies.
Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, established in Vietnam in 1926.
Eckankar is a pantheistic religion with the purpose of making God an everyday reality in one's life.
Hindu reform movements, such as Ayyavazhi, Swaminarayan Faith and Ananda Marga, are examples of new religious movements within Indian religions.
Japanese new religions (shinshukyo) is a general category for a wide variety of religious movements founded in Japan since the 19th century.
Jehovah's Witnesses, a non-trinitarian Christian Reformist movement sometimes described as millenarian.
Neo-Druidism is a religion promoting harmony with nature, and drawing on the practices of the druids.
Noahidism is a monotheistic ideology based on the Seven Laws of Noah, and on their traditional interpretations within Rabbinic Judaism.
Satanism is a broad category of religions that, for example, worship Satan as a deity (Theistic Satanism) or use Satan as a symbol of carnality and earthly values (LaVeyan Satanism and The Satanic Temple).
Unitarian Universalism is a religion characterized by support for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and has no accepted creed or theology.
Spiritual Science applies the scientific method to spirituality. It applies truths of physiology, quantum mechanics and other sciences to catalyze changes in consciousness and awareness.
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