Founded by Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri, who took on the name Baha'Ullah (Glory of God) in 1863
Kitab al-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book), Bayan (Statement of Explanation by al-Bab)
Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad, known as al-Bab (the gate), founded the Baha'i faith's predecessor Babism in 1844. From that grew the Baha'i faith with the coming of Baha'Ullah, the prophet whom al-Bab had predicted would come. The Baba'i faith
promotes the unification of all religions, teachings and humanity. Its goal is the improvement of the conditions of human life.
Based on the teachings of The Buddha (enlightened one)
The Vinaya, The Sutra, The Abhidharma, The Bardo Thodol, The Milindapanha
Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, known as
the Buddha after he had found enlightenment. Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths: suffering is universal,
suffering has a common cause, it can be overcome, and the steps to overcome it. The common cause of suffering is selfish desires and attachments. Suffering can be overcome
by following the Noble Eightfold Path: (1) right view, (2) right thought, (3) right speech, (4) action,
(5) right job, (6) right effort, (7) right mindfulness and (8) right contemplation. Each person lives
life, dies, then is reborn on earth, living out the consequences of the actions of previous lives. Rebirth is called reincarnation, and
the consequences of previous actions is referred to as karma. Karma ceases when a person no longer has selfish desires and
has finally reached the state of nirvana, or enlightenment.
Based on the teachings of Jesus Christ
The Old and New Testaments
Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah
whose coming was predicted in the Old Testament, and that he is the son of God. Jesus had 12 disciples to whom he taught God's truth through parables and by
their following him as he performed miracles and spoke to the masses. The disciples' statements of the miracles and teachings of Jesus were eventually compiled and
became known as the New Testament. They also follow the teachings of the Old Testament and believe in the 10 commandments. To the
10 commandments Jesus added "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Based on the teachings of Confucius (K'ung Fu-Tzu) who was born in 551 BCE
The Book of Historical Documents (Shu Ching), The Book of Odes (Shih Ching), The Book of Rites (Li Ching), The Book of Changes (I Ching), The Spring and Autumn Annals (Ch'un Ch'iu)
Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who
taught the masses humane and ethical standards to live by in an attempt to promote political and social reforms. He stressed the
following values: (1) Li: ritual, propriety, etiquette, etc. (2) Hsiao: love among family members, (3) Yi: righteousness, (4) Xin:
honesty and trustworthiness, (5) Jen: benevolence towards others; the highest Confucian virtue, and (6) Chung: loyalty
to the state, etc. Present day teachings are divided into two philosophies: the School of Principle (Li-Hsueh) and the School of Mind (Hsin-Hsueh).
Hinduism, a collection of religious beliefs of the people of India, originated in Persia (now called Pakistan)
The Veda, including: the Rig-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Atharva-Veda. The Upanishads, The Bhagavad-Gita, The Puranas, The Ramayana, The Mahabharata
Hindus believe in a universal eternal soul called Brahman, who created and is present in everything. Hindus believe in the
caste system in which people are ranked by status based on their religious practice, employment, locale, and many other categories, and classifies society into
four groups: the priests, rulers and warriors; farmers and merchants; and peasants and laborers. They believe in the cycle of birth, death, and
reincarnation and that each lifetime is governed by the laws of karma, or consequences of the deeds of previous lives affect the next. Their goal in life is to move
beyond the need to reincarnate. They practice yoga, follow the teachings of the Veda (the truth) and are taught by gurus (personal teachers). Worshipers believe in the divine trinity (cycle of nature) represented by Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.
Based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad
(see also Sufism, a mystical religion which was derived from the Islam faith)
The Qur'an (Koran)
Followers of the Islamic
faith are known as Muslims. They believe there is only one God, that the Qur'an is the holy book of God, God's angels were created to serve God and are opposed to evil,
God makes no distinction between His messengers, God will judge a person's deeds on judgment day, God foreordains the lives of people although they are free to do good or evil deeds and
will be rewarded or punished in heaven accordingly. Muslims believe in the Law of Moses, Psalms of David, Gospel of
Jesus Christ and that the revelations given to Muhammad supersede the previous scriptures. They also believe that Jesus
was one of God's prophets. Muslims must fulfill the Five Pillars of Islam: confession that there is but one God and Muhammad is the prophet of God,
say five daily prayers facing the holy city of Mecca, give alms to the poor regularly, fast from sunset to sunrise during the month of Ramadan,
and make a journey to Mecca at least once in one's lifetime.
Founded by A-dina-than (or Rsabha) who was the first of 24 teachers, modern day Jainism is based on the teachings of the 24th, Vardhamana Mahavira (the Great Hero) who was born in 598 BCE
The Angas, The Upangas
The Jains (followers of the victor)
derive their name from Mahavira, known as Jina (the Victor). Jains believe in a cyclical nature of the universe, without beginning or end or creator.
The objective of Jainism is to strive for liberation from unending cycles of birth, death and re-birth (reincarnation).
One who is liberated, achieving its original state of infinite bliss, is called a Siddha.
Every Jiva (living being) has the potential of becoming a Siddha and therefore God.
The three guiding principles of Jainism (or the three jewels) are right belief, right knowledge and right conduct.
The strict Jain ethical code is Ahimsa (non-violence, which includes being either a vegetarian or vegan), Satya (truth), Asteya (not stealing), Brahmacarya (purity of mind and body),
Aparigraha (non-attachment to temporal possessions). They also believe in chastity or in the case of monks, celibacy.
Judaism is the original of the three Abrahamic faiths, which also includes Christianity and Islam.
The Hebrew Scriptures include: The Torah (the Law), The Prophets, The Writings, The Talmud which includes the Mishna (oral law), the Gemara (commentary on the Mishna)
Judaism was founded when Abraham made a covenant with God around 2000 BC. God led Abraham and the Hebrews to the promised
land of Canaan, but famine forced them to flee from the holy land to Egypt where they were known as the Israelites and
they lived under oppressive rule until around 1300 BC. The prophet Moses led the exodus from Egypt and
and during this time, was instructed to climb Mt. Sinai where he communed with God and received the Ten Commandments to guide his people:
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me,
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,
- Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain,
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,
- Honor thy father and thy mother,
- Thou shalt not kill,
- Thou shalt not commit adultery,
- Thou shalt not steal,
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.
After 40 years in the desert, the Israelites, or Jews, once again entered the promised land of Canaan, which is now known as
Israel, a portion of the original Holy Land.
Jews believe in one God and that they are God's chosen people. Although the Jews have been oppressed throughout history,
they believe in the covenant with God that if they follow the law of God as stated in the Torah, one day God will send a
Messiah to restore them to their land, rectify all evil and initiate an era of joy.
A Native Religion of Japan from 500 AD
Shinto is an ancient Japanese religion recognizes the existance of nature dieties (Kami).
The deities Izanagi and Izanami gave birth to the Japanese islands and their children became the deities of the
various Japanese clans. Their daughter Amaterasu (Sun Goddess), ancester of the Imperial Family, is
regarded as the chief deity.
Followers of Shinto believe all human life is sacred, revere Kami's creative and harmonizing powers, and aspire to have sincerity or true heart.
Morality is based upon that which is of benefit to the group.
There are Four Affirmations in Shinto:
- Tradition and family,
- Love of nature
- Physical cleanliness and
- the Festival which honors the spirits.
The Sikh belief started in Northern India with the birth of Guru Nank in 1469 AD
The Adi Granth
Sikhs (disciples) believe that the way to lead a good life is to:
- Keep God in heart and mind at all times,
- Live honestly and work hard
- Treat everyone equally
- Be generous to the less fortunate
- Serve others
Sikhs believe in one supreme God and the teachings of the ten Gurus. Each one represents a divine attribute:
- Guru Nanak - Humility
- Guru Angad - Obedience
- Guru Amar Das - Equality
- Guru Ram Das - Service
- Guru Arjan - Self-Sacrifice
- Guru Hargobind - Justice
- Guru Har Rai - Mercy
- Guru Harkrishan - Purity
- Guru Tegh Bahadur - Tranquility
- Guru Gobind Singh - Royal Courage
The basic postulate of Sikhism is that life is not sinful in its origin and thus God abides in it.
The Sikhs do not recognize the caste system, nor do they believe in idol worship, rituals, or superstitions.
Sikhism consists of practical living, rendering service to humanity, and engendering tolerance and brotherly love towards all.
The Sikh Gurus did not advocate retirement from the world in order to attain salvation. It can be achieved by any one
who earns an honest living and leads a normal life.
- One God, Creator of the Universe, Immortal, Omnipresent
- All human beings are equal
- Birth and Death and Reincarnation
- Non-Violence, except as a last resort when all other peaceful means fail
Its founder, Guru Nanak, spread a simple message of "Ek Ong Kar": we are all one, created by the One Creator of all Creation.
There is one God and many paths, and the Name of God is Truth, "Sat Nam."
He taught them to bow only before God, and to link themselves to the Guru. He opposed superstition, rituals,
social inequality and injustice, renunciation and hypocrisy. He taugh that each person should
arise each day before sunrise, to clean the body, meditate on God's Name and recite the Guru's hymns to clean the mind. Throughout the day, continuously remember God's Name with every breath.
Dharam di Kirat Karni - To work and earn by the sweat of the brow, to live a family way of life, and practice truthfulness and honesty in all dealings.
Vand Ke Chakna - To share the fruits of one's labor with others before considering oneself. Thus, to live as an inspiration and a support to the entire community.
Founded in China by Lao-tzu born in 604 BC
The Tao Te Ching, The Chuang Tzu, The Lieh Tzu
Taoism is an ancient tradition of philosophy and religious belief that is deeply rooted in Chinese customs and worldview.
Taoism is also referred to as Daoism, which is a more accurate way of representing in English the sound of the Chinese word.
Taoism is about the Tao. This is usually translated as the Way. But it's hard to say exactly what this means. The Tao is the ultimate creative principle of the universe. All things are unified and connected in The Tao
Taoism originated in China 2000 years ago
It is a religion of unity and opposites; Yin and Yang. The principle of Yin Yang sees the world as filled with complementary forces - action and non-action, light and dark, hot and cold, and so on
The Tao is not God and is not worshipped. Taoism includes many deities, that are worshipped in Taoist temples, they are part of the universe and depend, like everything, on the Tao.
- achieving harmony or union with nature
- the pursuit of spiritual immortality
- being 'virtuous' (but not ostentatiously so)
Taoist practices include:
- feng shui
- fortune telling
- reading and chanting of scriptures
Before the communist revolution fifty years ago, Taoism was one of the strongest religions in China. After a campaign to destroy non-Communist religion, however, the numbers significantly reduced, and it has become difficult to assess the statistical popularity of Taoism in the world.
Founded around 600 BC by the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra) in Asia (Iran area)
Quoted from http://www.religioustolerance.org/zoroastr.htm
Their theology has had a great impact on Judaism, Christianity and other later religions, in the beliefs surrounding God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, savior, resurrection, final judgment, etc.
It is one of the oldest religions still in existence,
It may have been the first monotheistic religion.
According to the New York Times:
"While Zoroastrians once dominated an area stretching from what is now Rome and Greece to India and Russia, their global population has dwindled to 190,000 at most, and perhaps as few as 124,000, according to a survey in 2004 by the Fezana Journal The number is imprecise because of wildly diverging counts in Iran, once known as Persia - the incubator of the faith."
"'Survival has become a community obsession,' said Dina McIntyre, an Indian-American lawyer in Chesapeake, Va., who has written and lectured widely on her religion."
"The Zoroastrians' mobility and adaptability has contributed to their demographic crisis. They assimilate and intermarry, virtually disappearing into their adopted cultures. And since the faith encourages opportunities for women, many Zoroastrian women are working professionals who, like many other professional women, have few children or none." 1
Zoroastrianism at a glance
Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions It was founded by the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago.
For 1000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran)
from 600 BCE to 650 CE.
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:
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.
The Younger Avesta - commentaries to the older Avestan written in later years. It also contains myths, stories and details of ritual observances.
Back to Top