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This week: Learning about other religionsEdited by: Elle
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Learning about a religion doesn't require that you believe it. But that knowledge can help you to understand and tolerate differences. Often there is far more to a faith or religion than what you might have thought.
When I was growing up, my father (who is an outspoken atheist) had a fascination with world religions. I remember watching him read a big thick book on world religions. When anyone came to the door to talk to us about their religion, my dad would invite them in for a cup of tea and a chat, and would debate theology with them. It used to amuse me, but as an adult I have come to realise something - if more of us took the time to learn about faiths and religions other than our own, we'd go a long way towards ridding the world of some needless ignorance.
Learning about a religion doesn't require that you believe it. My dad is certainly not religious, but he has spoken to many people, including religious leaders, about what they believe and why, and it has given him insight and understanding. More than that, I believe it has taught him tolerance.
With this form of tolerance and understanding in mind, I asked a few of our members to share a glimpse into their faith. There are a surprising number of different religions and faiths represented on this site, and I believe learning a little about them is good for all of us.
'Buddhism is a nontheistic religion- meaning the religion is based more on thought than it is dependent on gods or deities. There are different types and schools of Buddhism, each with its own specific traditions, customs, and sub-branches. The four main branches are Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Tantrayana. Each school has a different level of “awareness”, and the level increases, in the order listed. The branches incorporate each other’s’ ideas- so Mahayana incorporates elements from Theravada, Vajrayana borrows from Mahayana and Theravada, and Tantrayana has ideas from all the other three schools.
In my experience, Buddhism has some daily rituals- for example, my sect gets up early in the mornings to li fo, or pay respects to the Buddha. We sing doctrinal songs and recite prayers/chants. Also, we have pre-meal rituals- singing songs and reciting prayers for Buddha to bless our food and the various sentient beings who may have worked to provide us with the meal.
My Buddhist family celebrates the Buddha’s birthday every year with a bathing Buddha ceremony; it’s the only Buddhist celebration I know of, but the ceremony takes months of careful planning, and many people- not just Buddhists attend the event every year.
As for the afterlife, we believe in reincarnation and Nirvana. A person’s spirit goes to Nirvana when they move on from their worldly life. Then, when the time comes, they are reincarnated into another body or bodies, to help and deliver more sentient beings.' ~ Dragyn
'I am a pagan. I was before I even knew exactly what a pagan was. When I found out all this, when I was a teenager, it just clicked.
Pagans pursue their own vision of the Divine as a direct and personal experience. Many Pagans see the Earth itself as sacred. Modern Pagans tend to be relaxed and at ease with themselves and others. There is a respect for all of life and usually a desire to participate with rather than to dominate other beings.
Paganism as practiced in the west is particular to the native peoples of the west and although there are many forms most are descended from Celtic origins.
1. Paganism is a religion of nature. Pagans see the divine as immanent in the whole of life and the universe; in every tree, plant, animal and object, man and woman and in the dark side of life as much as in the light. Pagans live their lives attuned to the cycles of Nature, the seasons, life and death.
2. Unlike the patriarchal religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) the divine is female as well as male and therefore there is a Goddess as well as a God. These deities are within us as well as without us. They are us.
3. Paganism in the west takes a number of forms including Wicca, Druidism, and Shamanism.
4. The four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water have special significance. The importance of these is hard to define because they have so many correspondences
5. Many Pagans believe in reincarnation in some form.
6. Everyone is considered to be part of this Mother Earth.
7.Solar and lunar cycles are significant in pagan worship.
8. Can be either practiced in a group or alone.' ~ *Jenny*
'Baha'u'llah, which means "Glory of God", is the founder of the Baha'i Faith. Baha'u'llah taught that, even though the various religions call God by different names, there is only one God. He taught that periodically God sends Prophets or Divine Messengers who are the reflections of the attributes of God. These Divine Messengers or Divine Educators were sent at different times throughout the history of Earth to address the needs of humanity at the time they appeared. We know these Divine Messengers as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha'u'llah. Thus Baha'is believe in the divine foundations of all the great religions.
Baha'is also believe that there is only one race, the human race. It does not matter where a person is from what color the person's complexion, or the person's gender that individual is still a member of the human race. They all have souls and are deserving of respect and equal treatment.' ~ Prosperous Snow Creative
Islam is a religion of peace and unity. Our main belief is that there is one God, Allah, and Muhammad (PBUH) is the last prophet of Allah and there will be no more prophets. Muslims have Articles of Faith on which their beliefs depend upon and are the basis for our actions. Articles of Faith include Tauheed (Oneness of Allah), Angels, Divine Books, Prophets and The Last Day. Islam provides it's teachings for everyone and whoever wants to take advantage of it can even if the person is a non-Muslim. We have Pillars of Islam which are our actions that we perform on the basis of our faith, they are Shahadah, Salat (Prayer), Zakat, Sawm (Fasting) and Hajj (pilgrimage).
All the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have been preserved in the forum of he Holy Quran and Muhammad's (PBUH) actions are preserved in Sunnah (actions of the Holy Prophet PBUH) and Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet PBUH). All the teachings of the previous holy books were cancelled by Muhammad (PBUH) because the previous holy books had been corrupted. Quran was revealed and Allah has taken it upon Himself to protect the Quran from any kind of corruption and the Quran has never been changed, even a single word, since more than fourteen hundred years.
In Islam, everyone is responsible for their actions and they will be held accountant for them and no one will get injustice. Whosoever performs good deeds, lives a good life according to the teachings of Islam, he will go to Paradise. Whosoever does wrong or bad deeds and does not follow the teachings of Islam will go to Hell.
All the Muslims offer prayers 5 times a day after the Azaan. We pay zakat once a year usually in the month of Ramadan because it gives more virtue. We, Muslims, celebrate two eids in a year and the dates are never fixed because they depend on the sighting of the moon. Eid-ul-Fitr is the Eid that comes after Ramadan, it is a festival to celebrate that all Muslims kept fasts during Ramadan and engaged in deep worship of Allah. The second if Eid-ul-Adha. Eid al-Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son Ishmael for Allah. Muslims around the world observe this event and celebrate it by sacrificing goats, camels, lamb or cow and then distributing the meat in a specific proportion to their relatives, family and neighbours and there is a portion for the needy people too.' ~ ~ Aqua ~
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit about some of the different religions that are represented on this site. I certainly have, and I really appreciate these members sharing their faith with us.
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