Religion is defined as the belief in the existence of god or gods and the Supernatural, and the activities and practices that are associated with the worship of them.
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, there exists 19 major religions in the world. These religions are further subdivided into 270 large groups with many smaller groups.
About 75% of the world’s population practices one of the five most influential religions of the world- Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
1) There are an estimated 10,000 religions in the world today.
2) Christianity is currently the largest religion in the world with a population of 2.4 billion adherents.
3) There are about 34,000 Christian denominations in the world.
4) Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.
5) Amish religion prohibits the use of telephones, electricity, and automobiles.
6) Jews are more educated than any other dominant religious group in the world.
7) The 7 Fathers of the Church are St John of Damascus, St Gregory of Nazianus, St Cyril of Alexandria, St Athanasius, St John Chrysostom, St Basil of Caesarea and St Gregory of Nyssa.
8) ‘YATHRIB’ was the original name of the Holy city of Madinah.
9) About 200 mosques in the holy city of Mecca points to the wrong direction.
10) Of the 1.5 billion Islam followers, 1 billion are followers of Sunni Islam while Shi’ite Muslims number approximately 125 million.
Christianity has the highest number of worshipers and is the most practiced religion in the world, with over 2.1 billion followers (33% of the world’s population). The Christian faith is based on the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus, also known as the ‘Messiah.’ Most of its adherents believe that Jesus Christ was crucified at Calvary or Golgotha, died, was buried and resurrected on the third day.
Like Judaism and Islam, Christianity is a monotheistic religion, and its adherents who are known as Christians believe in one eternal God-fearing the creator of all that there is.
The main tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah whose coming was a fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Christians believe that he was the son of God who died resurrected, ascended into heaven and will ultimately return at the blowing of the trumpet to take His church to Heaven.
Christianity can be divided into denominations, and the major ones include Roman Catholicism with 1.285 billion followers – over half the entire Christian population, Church of the East, Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.
The Bible is the holy book of Christianity.
Islam is a monotheistic religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad. It is the second largest religion in the world with 1.3 billion adherents (24% of the global population). Islam is also the fastest growing religion in the world. Most Muslims (as the followers of Islam are called) belong to with either Sunni Islam which is about 71-80% of all Muslims and Shia Islam (10-20%) of all Muslims.
The Koran which is said to be a revelation from Allah through the angel Gabriel is the hole book of Islam.
Islam is based on five tenets which are known as the ‘Five pillars of Islam’. These tenets – the testimony of faith(Shahada), prayer (Salad), giving(Zakat), fasting (Sawn) and pilgrimage (Hajj) is important as a Muslim’s entrance into Paradise hinges on strict compliance to these pillars.
Ranked among the most influential religions in the world, Judaism has about 14 million adherents (0.2% of the world’s population). While this number pales in comparison to some other religions, its belief system has direct influenced Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith.
Judaism began as early as 2000 BCE. Its history dates back to Abraham who with Isaac, his son and Jacob are referred to as the Patriarchs.
Judaism is considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religion- a term which refers to the belief in a single, all-knowing, all-powerful God. Jewish followers refer to God as Yahweh and worship in Synagogues.
Judaism is the official religion of Israel. Some Jewish holidays include the Festival of Trees, the Festival of Booth, Sabbath, the Day of Atonement and Passover.
Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion and the third largest religion behind Christianity and Islam, with over 900 million adherents (15.1% of the global population).
Hindu religion does not worship any one God neither does it claim any one prophet. The goal of Hinduism is to unite one’s spirit with Brahma and be free from the law of Karma.
Hindus believe that their actions in a perfect life strongly influences their position in present life. If a person’s behaviour in a previous life was evil, they might experience poverty, disease, pain or hardship in the present life. 95% of Hindus are found in India and Nepal.
The four largest denominations of Hinduism are Shaktism, Smartism, Shaivism and the Vaishnavism.
Texts of Hinduism include the Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, the Mahabharata, Arankayas, Brahmanas and the Sutras.
Buddhism takes the position of the fourth largest religion in the world (behind Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism) with 520 million followers (7% of the world’s population).
Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama(also known as Buddha Shakyamuni) who lived and taught a step by step path to achieve personal happiness in India. The central belief of Buddhism is the elimination of suffering through the attainment of Nirvana- a state of transcendent freedom.
The Four Noble Truths and Eight Fold Noble Paths are the core teachings of the Buddha. Buddhism focuses on personal spiritual development.
While Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism are the most influential religions, there are still many other religions with large followership worldwide.