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Characteristic of Religion

Characteristics of Religion
Beliefs Symbol Ritual & Ceremony Writings Ethics

Christianity Judaism Islam Buddhism Hinduism

Christianity

Beliefs
There is one God God created all things God is three persons in one: Father, Son, Holy Spirit (Trinity) Jesus was the son of God Jesus is both divine and human Jesus died, rose again and ascended into heaven Jesus is our saviour, reconciling humans with God Humans were created in the image of God Christian beliefs are summarised in the Nicene Creed

Symbol
Cross or Crucifix symbol of Christianity representing Jesus crucifixion Chi-Rho an early symbol for Jesus Ihs an abbreviation of Jesus name (symbol for Jesus) Ichthus means fish in Greek, and was the secret symbol of Christianity used by early Christians. The word Ichthus is an acronymn for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour Alpha and Omega Jesus is the beginning and the end

Ritual & Ceremony The main place Christian worship takes place is in churches
Almost all Christians celebrate two sacraments, baptism and Eucharist. Some Christian denominations celebrate more. Baptism is the most significant rite of initiation for Christians. This involves dipping or immersing the person in water and saying words based on Jesus command. Eucharist is the most common act of publish worship for Christians. It is a celebration remembering the Last Supper, death and resurrection of Jesus. It generally consists of readings from the Bible, preaching by the priest or minister, community prayers, a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father over the bread and wine, a rite of peace and the assemblys reception of the bread and / or wine.

Writings
The bible is the main source of writings for Christians The bible is made up of two parts, the Old and New Testaments The Old Testament is a record of Gods relationship with Gods people (Israelites) The New Testament is a record of the influence of Jesus and those who experienced him Different Christian denominations accept different books in the bible. All Christians include 27 books in their New Testament, where as, for example, Catholic Christians accept seven extra books. The bible is a source of teaching for all Christians

Ethics
The primary source of ethical authority for all Christians is the bible Christians have used teachings in the Old Testament, such as the Ten Commandments, to form Christian ethics Jesus is the foundation of Christian ethical teaching Jesus central teachings, especially love of God and love of neighbour, is the basis of Christian ethics Throughout Jesus life he taught Christians how to live, e.g. the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthews gospel From the bible Christians have formed an ethical perspective, such as in the areas of the sanctity of life, the dignity of the human person, integrity in sexuality, honesty and truth, justice and the works of mercy.

Judaism

Beliefs
There is one God The worship of any other God is forbidden God is the creator of everything that exists God is eternal God will help the Jewish people if they remain obedient to his law and loyal to him That the Messiah will come and transform the world Moses was the greatest of the Prophets The whole of the Torah was revealed to Moses

Symbol
Star of David symbol of Judaism Menorah a seven branched candelabra symbolising the nation of Israel Mezuzah a small case found on the door posts of Jewish houses containing a small scroll with the word of God written on it Tallit prayer shall worn by observant Jewish people Chai A symbol often worn around the necks of Jewish people

Ritual & Ceremony Religious practices are located in the synagogue and the home
Religious ceremonies surround the life cycle events of a Jews life. These include Bar and Bat Mitzvah are coming of age ceremonies when young Jews transition from childhood to adult responsibility and status Jewish people say short prayers at different intervals during the day There are a number of Jewish festivals throughout the year which are formalised rituals which happen in the synagogue or the home Foods must be Kosher or permitted in order for Jewish people to eat them. Any food that comes from a pig strictly forbidden is

Writings
The Jewish (Hebrew) bible is the main source of writings for Jewish people The bible is divided into three groups, the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings The Torah means teaching includes the first five books of Moses and instructs the Jewish people on what they must in order to earn Gods blessings The prophetic books outline the life of the prophets The writings are often thought of as the wisdom books. The wisdom writers had important knowledge gained from years of experience to pass onto younger generations do

Ethics
Some of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah are concerned with ethical issues. They provide a pattern of behaviour which Jews see as a reflection of God himself The most famous mitzvot are the Ten Commandments To help with the interpretation of the mitzvot, writings were written and compiled into the Talmud, which, together with the mitzvot, acts as a guide on how to act in any situation Jewish people see it as a duty to seek holiness within themselves. This is a life-long and achievable goal which requires each Jew to have full participation in life and in the community, choose right instead of wrong, choose beauty rather than ugliness, and to live their life in a way which sanctifies them

Islam

Beliefs
There is one God, Allah Allah is the creator and sustainer of the universe Allah is all-seeing, all-hearing and all-knowing Nothing can happen without the will and knowledge of Allah God has 99 names and meditation upon these names means you will discover more about God The first duty of a Muslim is to declare their faith in the oneness of God Muslims are agents of Allah on this earth to do his will, however, even though Allah knows what people are going to do, he does not make them do it

Symbol
There are no, or very few, official Islamic symbols, however there are a few which have special significance to them Star and Crest a well known symbol of Islam Prayer beads used in a reflection of each of God names

Script certain words in Arabic script are regarded as visually representing Islam such as: Allah Shahadah Islamic creed

Ritual & Ceremony The Mosque is the main place of worship for Muslims
The Five Pillars of Faith express the relationship between faith and public and private worship in Islam. They are the key to devotional practices and include Shahada (declaration of faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (almsgiving), Sawm (fasting) and Hajj (pilgrimage) There are a number of rites that celebrate the life cycle: initiation, marriage and funeral rites. There is no formal rite of initiation that makes one a Muslim. At birth, the father whispers the call to prayer in the infants ear and a naming ceremony is held seven days later Marriage ceremonies are a simple contractual event As soon as possible after death the body is ritually washed and buried as part of the funeral rites

Writings
The Quran is the infallible word of God, revealed to Muhammad It contains the essential teachings of the unity and power of God, the stories of the prophets and the consequences of good and evil for life and the hereafter It is written in rhyming Arabic It contains 114 chapters, known as suras It is chanted during daily worship and in personal prayer

Ethics
The fundamental Islamic value is to surrender to the will of Allah Each Muslim is to try ones hardest (jihad) to establish good Sharia is the code of law for the Muslim way of life. It regulates all aspects of life: the performance of ritual, personal morality, hygiene, etiquette, family and inheritance laws, rules for commerce and the social and political order Sharia categorises all human actions. Some actions are forbidden (haraam) such as taking interest on money and intoxication. All other actions are halal (allowed) but are further graded into compulsory (e.g. daily prayers), recommended (e.g. community prayer), indifferent (e.g. sleep), disliked but allowable (e.g. divorce)

Buddhism

Beliefs
Buddhists do not believe in a god or an afterlife Buddhists believe in re-birth and travel through life trying to achieve Nirvana (a state of nothingness which can only be reached by practicing dharma) The Four Noble Truths are the answers to Buddhas search about questions on evil and suffering. These are life is infused with suffering, the origin of suffering is desire, suppression of desire involves the end of suffering and to end suffering one needs to follow the Eightfold Path The Eightfold Path represents the practical way in which any individual can overcome the cause of personal suffering and unhappiness in this life.

Beliefs
The Eightfold Path represents the practical ways in which any individual can overcome the cause of personal suffering and unhappiness in this life. The eight steps are:
- Right views (always thinking positively) - Right resolve (intending always to do good) - Right speech (speaking only of the good and positive) - Right conduct (acting only in a good and positive way) - Right Livelihood (working only at what is good and positive) - Right Efforts (ones energies always being directed at what is good and positive) - Right Mindfulness (setting ones mind towards the good and positive) - Right Concentration (contemplating only the good and positive)

Symbol
Buddha Statue representation of Buddha

Dharma Wheel represents the Eightfold Path

Stupa a dome shaped monument used to housed Buddhist relics or to commemorate significant facts of Buddhism Lostus Flower a symbol of purity, faithfulness etc

Ritual & Ceremony The most common religious practice for Buddhists is meditation
Buddhists participate in pujas or formal acts of worship in a temple or shrine Most forms of Buddhism celebrate the life and death of Buddha in some way Majjhima Nikaya is a ceremonial offering of gifts to monks Mahavagga is ritualistic confessions by monks of their faults Other rituals include the ordination of monks and nuns and marriage (which is essentially a secular affair)

Writings
There is a great variety of Buddhist writings. The sutras are a collection of Buddhas teachings comprised of sermons and poems which often include stories to provide a message The vinaya contains rules for monastic life The abhidharma is a collection of analytical texts The sutras, vinaya and abhidharma together make up the Tipitaka, the Buddhist scriptures.

Ethics
There is no sense of guilt or sin in Buddhism because they do not believe in a god Buddhists believe in Karma which recognises the relationship between what you do and what happens to you At the centre of Buddhist ethical practice are the Five Precepts which are rules that identify the aspirations of a Buddhist. These are: not to destroy life, not to steal, note to engage in sexual immorality, not to tell untruths, not to drink alcohol Buddhist monks live by five more precepts. These are: not to eat after noon each day, not to dance, sing or go to the theatre, not to adorn oneself with extravagant clothes, ornaments or perfume, not to sleep on comfortable beds, not to have money. All ten of these are said to guarantee Nirvana

Hinduism

Beliefs
The central Hindu belief is in the divine soul Brahman which is formless and everlasting Brahman is the creator spirit and binds together each soul (atman) There are many other thousands of deities which are manifestations of Brahman e.g. Shiva and Vishnu Overtime Hindus have subdivided into those who follow Shiva and those who follow Vishnu Hindus believe in reincarnation. They are constantly in a cycle of re-birth known as the Wheel of Life. This a journey towards Brahman, known as Moksha, with Karma determining your place on this journey in your next life

Symbol
Om an important Hindu symbol Cow symbol of purity, motherhood and non-violence (ahimsa) Swastika represents Brahman Conchshell symbol of Vishnu Trident symbol of Shiva

Ritual & Ceremony Hindu worshippers have two levels: devotee (everyday Hindu)
or yogi (male) or yogini (female) where a person, through sacrifice and yoga practice, has attained a state of highest perfection Private worship takes place in the home in front of a family shrine and public worship takes place in a temple, a village shrine or at a place of pilgrimage Hinduism marks life stages with special rituals called samskaras. These include Namakaran (naming ceremony), Mudan (first haircut), Vivaha (marriage) and Antyesthi (death and cremation) There are also many religious festivals which involve devotion, purification, celebration, recognition and worship of a deity

Writings
The Vedas is the Hindu bible which contains worship of Brahman Hindus believe that the Vedas was received by god-inspired scholars. Because of this they are known as sruti / shruti or hearing The Vedas contains hymns praising god under different names, manuals of ritual and prayer for the guidance of priests, discussions about worship, meditation and ritual and a collection of parables and dialogues which try to explain Hindu concepts of the individual atman and its relationship to Brahman Other texts are known as smrti / smriti which are religious, moral and educational writings based on remembered knowledge

Ethics
Hindus believe the world is governed by a universal moral law that has impact on the lives of all people. All people are bound by dharma (duty or responsibility) A Hindus stage of life will determine the dharma The first stage of life is brahmachyara in which a person is to study well, be respectful to elders, refrain from sex before marriage, and refrain from alcohol and tobacco The second stage is grihastha in which a person must get married, rear children and look after them. A man must look after his wife, elderly relatives and work at something which contributes to the human community and look to religious duties

Ethics
The third stage is vanaprastha in which a person must study and contemplate religion and prepare for the next life The fourth stage is only reached by a few and is called sannyasa and is a self renunciation stage where a person becomes an extremely holy person Karma shapes a persons next life. Good karma can lead to the breaking from the bonds of rebirth. Bad karma will lead to the rebirth to possibly and inferior form of life