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Religions Christianity was traditionally understood to be founded by Jesus of Nazareth. Paul of Tarsus, after his conversion on the road to Damascus, worked tirelessly to establish Christianity among both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles of the Diaspora. Clues in the New Testament indicate that there was a significant rift between Paul and the Jewish leadership early in the history of the Church. It is primarily Paul’s writings which has most influenced the Church today. Christians span the globe and are present on all the inhabited continents and in most of the world’s societies. As Christianity is a universalizing religion, it embraces all nations and peoples.

Major Teachings: Most Christian denominations and sects teach that man is sinful and can never inherit eternal life in the presence of God as a result of the sins of our first parents, Adam and Eve,as well as our own personal sin. It thus became necessary for God to become man in the person of Jesus Christ who as the Son of God was sinless and unblemished. His purpose was to suffer and die in atonement for the sins of all who accept his sacrifice for sin. Individual salvation is dependent upon the acceptance of this atonement. The Church is the Bride of Christ whose purpose is to spread this message, the Gospel, to all people before Christ’s return to the earth to rule all nations as the heir to the throne of David.

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This is primary message of most Christians. Other sects will have variations on this message, and may include many other doctrines they find necessary to their own message or purpose. Scriptures and Other Significant Writings: The New Testament together with the Jewish Bible make up the canon of Christianity. The Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity also include books in their canons that many Protestants do not, called the Apocrypha or the Deuterocanonicals. Also important are the writings of the early church fathers and early church councils, which established much of the doctrine now considered dogma in the Church today. As of 1986, at least one book of the Christian Bible has been translated into 1,848 languages of the world. A book has been compiled by the United Bible Societies which lists languages alphabetically, chronologically, and geographically Of the present missionary efforts by many of Christianity’s sects, biblical translation is just one of many. Symbols: The most well known symbol of Christianity is the cross, or crucifix, symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. An ancient symbol of Christianity is the fish formed by two intersecting arcs.

Often the Greek word for fish, IXTHYS, appears within being an acronym for Jesus Christ God’s Son. Major Divisions: The three major branches of Christianity are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. There are, arguably, other sects such as Mormonism claiming this distinction due to major departures from orthodox doctrines. Major Holy Days: Although the differing divisions and sects of Christianity may celebrate differing holidays, place emphasis on certain holidays rather than others, or may use a differing calendar, the major holy days of Christianity are: Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas The Details about Christianity: Christianity arose as an obscure Jewish sect, and through the dedicated missionary efforts of such persons as the Apostle Paul was distributed throughout the Mediterranean basin. Church tradition suggests that each of the remaining Apostles of Jesus taught in such diverse places as the British Isles and India. After years of official persecution by the Roman Empire, Christianity was embraced as the state religion by Emperor Constantine.Several important church councils were held during this time period to decide on controversies over doctrine.

Eventually, the decisions of these councils provided guidelines to determine orthodoxy or heresy. The many divisions and sects now found in Christianity today has been the result of opinions which differed from the established doctrine. The Geography of Christianity: Christianity has greatly influenced the geography of medieval Europe, and later, the rest of the world due to colonization and missionary efforts. Perhaps the most significant contribution of Christianity was the reorganization of Europe from pagan bands and villages into the centrally organized holds of feudal Europe. This reorganization was patterned after the ecclesiastical hierarchy envisioned by the Church and set the stage for all that was to come in the future.

Monasteries were set up throughout Europe as either destinations or as waystations for pilgrimages. Monasteries became the repositories of civilization, learning, and often wealth. The Church provided sanction and divine recognition for governments of the day in the form of Divine Right. The Church was responsible for the ordination of kings and often arbitrated disputes over territory. Until the Reformation, the Church was a power to be reckoned with in both religious and secular matters.

Also important in the geography of Christianity is the special distribution of the various denominations, each denomination’s geographic divisions, and what effects each denomination has upon the land. For example, many new Protestant sects such as the Shakers experimented with new communal living arrangements in a quest for utopia during the first part of the nineteenth century. Although most of these efforts eventually failed, they created intentionally designed settlements of farms and workshops expressing new cultural and societal ideals. Roman Catholicism and Mormonism express their ecclesiastical geography through dividing the world into a hierarchy of areas. Catholics and many Protestant groups have missionary territories throughout the world. ISLAM Early History of Islam: Most religious historians view Islam as having been founded in 622 CE by Mohammed the Prophet in Median.

It is seen as the youngest of the world’s great religions. However, many if not most of the followers of Islam believe that: 1 Islam existed before Mohammed was born, 2 The origins of Islam date back to the creation of the world, 3 Mohammed was the last of a series of Prophets. Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslim is an Arabic word that refers to a person who submits themselves to the Will of God. Allah is an Arabic word which means the One True God. An alternate spelling for Muslim that is occasionally used is Moslem; it is not recommended because it is often pronounced Moslem: which sounds like an Arabic word for oppressor.

Some Western writers in the past have referred to Islam as Mohammedism; this is deeply offensive to many Muslims, as its usage can lead some to the concept that Mohammed the Prophet was in some way divine. Little is known about Muhammad’s childhood. He was orphaned at the age of 6 and brought up by his uncle. As a child, he worked as a shepherd. He was taken on a caravan to Syria by his uncle at the age of 9. Later, as a youth, he was employed as a camel driver on the trade routes between Syria and Arabia.

Mohammed later managed caravans on behalf of merchants. He met people of different religious beliefs on his travels, and was able to observe and learn about Judaism, Christianity and the indigenous Pagan religions. After marriage, he was able to spend more time in meditation. At the age of 40, he was visited in Mecca by the angel Gabriella. He developed the conviction that he had been ordained a Prophet and given the task of converting his countrymen from their pagan, polytheistic beliefs and what he regarded as moral decadence, idolatry, hedonism and materialism.

He met considerable opposition to his teachings. In 622 CE he moved north to Medina due to increasing persecution. The trek is known as the hegira . Here he was disappointed by the rejection of his message by the Jews. Through military activity and political negotiation, Mohammed became the most powerful leader in Arabia, and Islam was firmly established in the area. By 750 CE, Islam had expanded to China, India, along the Southern shore of the Mediterranean and into Spain.

By 1550 they had reached Vienna. Wars resulted, expelling Muslims from Spain and Europe. Since their trading routes were mostly over land, they did not an develop extensive sea trade. As a result, the old world occupation of North America was left to Christians. Believers are currently concentrated from the West coast of Africa to the Philippines. In Africa, in particular, they are increasing in numbers, largely at the expense of Christianity. Many do not look upon Islam as a new religion. They feel that it is in reality the faith taught by the ancient Prophets, Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus.

Mohammed’srole as the last of the Prophets was to formalize and clarify the faith and to purify it by removing foreign ideas that had been added in error. At a level of 1.2 billion, they represent about 22% of the world’s population. They are the second largest religion in the world; Christianity has 33%. Islam is growing about 2.9% per year which is faster than the total world population which increases about 2.3% annually. It is thus attracting a progressively larger percentage of the world’s population. The number of Muslims in North America is in dispute: estimates range from under 3 million to over 6 million.

The main cause of the disagreement appears to be over how many Muslim immigrants have converted to Christianity since they arrived in the US. Statistics Canada reports that 253,260 Canadians identified themselves as Muslims during the 1991 census. Those figures are believed to be an under-estimate. Important Text There are two main texts consulted by Muslims: the Qur’an are the words of God. This was originally in oral and written form; they were later assembled together into a single book, the Qur’an.

Its name is often spelled Koran in English. This is not recommended, as some Muslims find it offensive. The Hadith, which are collections of the sayings of Mohammed. They are regarded as an excellent guide for living. However, the writings are no regarded as having the same status as the Holy Qur’an; the latter is considered to be God’s word. Muslim Beliefs and Practices: Muslims follow a lunar calendar which started with the hegira, a 300 mile trek in 622 CE when Mohammed relocated from Mecca to Medina.

A Muslim’s duties as described in the Five Pillars of Islam are: recite at least once during their lifetime the shahadah: There is no God but God and Mohammed is his Prophet. Most Muslims repeat it at least daily. perform the salat 5 times a day. This is recited while orienting one’s body towards Mecca. It is done in the morning, at noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset and just before sleeping. donate regularly to charity through zakat, a 2.5% charity tax, and through additional donations to the needy as the individual believer feels moved. fast during the month of This is believed to be the month that Mohammed received the Qur’an from God. 5.if economically and physically, to make at least one hajj to Mecca. Jihad (struggle) is probably the most misunderstood religious word in existence. It often mentioned on Western TV and radio during news about the Middle East, where it is implied to be a synonym of holy war – a call to fight against non-Muslims in the defense of Islam.

The vast majority of Muslims have an entirely different definition of Jihad. It is seen as a personal, internal struggle with one’s self. The goal may be achievement in a profession, self-purification, the conquering of primitive instincts or the attainment of some other noble goal. Common beliefs: God is the creator, is just, omnipotent and merciful respect for earlier prophets and belief in their teachings: Abraham, Moses and Jesus that Mohammed is the last of the prophet belief in the existence of Satan who drives people to sin that Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God return to a state of sinlessness belief in Hell where unbelievers and sinners spend eternity. One translation of the Qur’an 98:1-8 states: The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell.

They are the vilest of all creatures. belief in Paradise, a place of physical and spiritual pleasure where the sinless go after death abstinence from alcohol and gambling rejection of racism avoid the use of alcohol, other drugs, eating of pork, etc. avoid gambling that Jesus is a prophet. They regard the Christian concept of the deity of Jesus to be blasphemous that Jesus was not executed on the cross Originally, in Islamic countries, there was no separation between religious and civil law, between Islam and the state. Turkey and some other countries have become secular states during this century.

This is a controversial move in Islamic circles. Understanding of Jesus, within Islam and Christianity Traditional Christians and Muslims have certain beliefs in common concerning Jesus. They both accept that: Jesus’ birth was miraculous. Jesus was the Messiah. He cured people of illness. He restored dead people to life. However, they differ from Christians in a number of major areas.

Muslims do not believe: In original sin (that everyone inherits a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve’s transgression) That Jesus was killed during his crucifixion. Muslims believe that he escaped being executed, and later reappeared to his disciples without having first died. That Jesus was resurrected (or resurrected himself) circa 30 CE Salvation is dependent either upon belief in the resurrection of Jesus or belief that Jesus is the Son of God. Schools within Islam: There are four different schools of jurisprudence within Islam. Much blood has been spilt over disputes between them. The main divisions are: Followers of the Hanifa, Shafi, Hanibal and Malik schools are called Sunni Muslims and constitute a 90% majority of the believers. They are considered to be main stream traditionalists.

Because they are comfortable pursuing their faith within secular societies, they have been able to adapt to a variety of national cultures, while following their three sources of law: the Qur’an, Hadith and consensus of Muslims. Followers of the Jafri school are called Shi’ite Muslims and constitute a small minority of Islam. They split from the Sunnis over a dispute about the successor to Mohammed. Their leaders, Imams promote a strict interpretation of the Qur’an and close adherents to its teachings. They believe in 12 heavenly Imam …


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