Bharat Stories
Light of Knowledge

The World’s Oldest Religions

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Religion shapes identities, customs and class systems globally and is one of the oldest components of world culture. Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity are the world’s oldest religions; Islam, founded in 610 A.D. by Prophet Muhammad is monotheistic but draws heavily upon both Judaism and Christianity for inspiration.

Table of Contents

Hinduism

Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, dating back beyond recorded history. Its beliefs center around dharma (virtue and morality), reincarnation and karma; there was no founder nor an authoritative text that defined its beliefs – however there were many traditions and practices similar to other major world religions that make up its faith system.

Hinduism can be traced back to its beginnings in the Indus Valley civilization dating back 3000 B.C. The religion follows a polytheistic model, worshiping multiple deities. Such an approach to religion was common throughout ancient religious traditions such as Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations.

Hinduism does not have one founder; however, the Vedas, four sacred texts dating back to 8000-6000 BCE that comprise its founding scriptures are considered its founding documents containing an array of teachings and philosophies from Samhitas to Aranyakas, Brahmanas and Upanishads.

Hinduism may be difficult to prove as the world’s oldest religion, but there is some supporting evidence. Terracotta figurines, seals and images of deities exist within Hinduism as proof. Additionally, one unique aspect of this faith is worshiping Goddess Shakti – something few other religions do.

Hinduism holds that there is an ultimate being known as Brahman that takes various forms to interact with its followers, with each person possessing a soul (atma) which forms part of this Supreme Being and undergoes reincarnation before reaching moksha and being free from births, deaths and rebirths forever.

Atman seeks to shed illusion, with life being an ongoing journey toward true reality and union with God. Hindus believe the best way to reach this state is through adhering to dharma or living according to your duty; additionally they consider reincarnation an effective means for spiritual development. Many symbols such as an om and swastika help guide these spiritual journeys for Hindus.

Judaism

Religion is one of the core components of world culture. It plays an integral role in shaping identities, customs, and class systems throughout many modern countries while providing moral guidance and spiritual comfort. Religions have existed for millennia – they play an essential part in human history that we can learn a great deal from.

Judaism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions and one of the oldest still practiced today. With origins dating back over millennia and believed to have been established by Abraham himself, it encompasses doctrine, ethics, rituals and customs as well as laws, sacred literature and institutions within its framework.

The Torah is an authoritative collection of stories which recount how Israel settled and built a home for their one God in their birthright lands, eventually compiling and editing these accounts to form what became known as the Hebrew Bible. Regarded by many as divinely inspired, its stories chronicle how they settled, established customs, and beliefs unique to Jewish law and custom.

Other strands of Judaism include the Sabbath, which is observed weekly; festivals like Rosh Hashanah (New Year), which involves prayers and hearing the sounding of shofars (ram’s horns); Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, when one abstains from food and drink for 25 hours – Sukkot, during which Jews live temporarily shelters called sukkahs for eight nights; and Chanukah, celebrated by lighting an eight-branched menorah over eight days – are all celebrated during these festivals.

As time progresses, various branches of Judaism have evolved in response to social changes and scientific advancement. These have included Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox traditions of Judaism. Today, nearly nine-in-ten Orthodox Jews believe in God of the Bible compared with about one quarter overall – younger adults tending toward Orthodoxy while older adults lean more towards Conservative or Reform traditions.

Christianity

Christianity is the world’s largest religion and is founded on Jesus Christ’s teachings. As a monotheistic faith with only one god, Christianity also holds to belief in resurrection of the dead and has its own bible for guidance of faith. Followers believe Jesus to be God himself who saved mankind from sin through sacrifice on Calvary. Christianity belongs to Abrahamic religions such as Judaism and Islam as part of Abrahamic religions family tree.

Christianity emerged out of Jewish monotheism. Its early members included Jews who believed Jesus to be God’s anointed one (Messiah). Baptism took place under the names of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some even claimed Jesus’ spirit had special powers to forgive sins on Earth.

As Christianity spread, its beliefs became more complex, drawing from Greek elements of their religious heritage and including words like essence, substance and being that were not part of Hebrew faith tradition; this led to debates over Jesus’ participation with God.

First church leaders had difficulty reconciling Jesus as God of the universe with their monotheistic heritage. Arius, an Alexandria presbyter in the 4th century, proposed that since God created all things including Jesus then this proposition should make Him subordinate – this caused outrage in Alexandria and other cities where Arius lived.

Over time, Christians have formed various types of churches. These include Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox congregations – each with its own traditions and beliefs but all sharing an origin in Jesus Christ and the Bible. Sometimes distinct branches of Christianity arise due to differences among believers regarding certain aspects of religion.

Religion has spread worldwide over the last two millennia. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox are among the most widespread denominations; other major ones include Baptist and Pentecostal churches. Over 2 billion Christians exist globally – most are concentrated in North America and Europe with some scattered across Asia and Africa.

Islam

Islam is the second-most-practiced religion worldwide with nearly 1.8 billion adherents worldwide. Islam is a monotheistic faith which worships Allah – the all-powerful and all-knowing god of Abrahamic religions.

Islam adheres to the belief that God has sent prophets such as Muhammad as guides for humanity, with Noah, Abraham, and Moses preceding him in this tradition of guidance from above. They believe the message of Islam (submitting oneself to Allah’s will ) echoes these earlier prophets’ messages – including submission.

Muslims believe that God has revealed holy books or scriptures through various prophets of their religion, such as the Quran, Injeel, Zabur and Tawrat. Muslims regard these sacred books as the unchangeable word of God and must respect and obey it. Additionally, they anticipate a Day of Judgment where all humans will be judged for their deeds in this life and either be given rewards or punishments accordingly.

Muslims hold that Allah is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-wise; therefore they trust He knows what’s best for humanity; however they recognize their freedom of choice in choosing their path in life. Muslims put their trust in Allah’s divine revelations but strive to follow in Muhammad (pbuh)’s footsteps and that of his companions as models for living their beliefs; sources such as Quran, hadith and sunnah can provide invaluable knowledge sources.

Muslims believe that Allah created everything, including humans. They also believe that Allah has a plan for each life and everything happens for a reason; furthermore, they believe that He will punish those who cause harm while rewarding those who do good deeds.

Islam stands out from most major religions by taking its name from submission to God’s will and commands rather than after any particular person or figure. Islam also remains unique among its six major world religions in that it has a centralized governing structure – first under Abu Bakr (Muhammad’s father-in-law), then Umar (Uthman). After Umar died in 634, Muhammad appointed Uthman (his son-in-law) as caliph before Umar finally died himself six years later (Umar died 634). Finally in 634 Muhammad appointed Uthman as caliph and thus Islam became universe among six major world religions!

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