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Symbols of various religions of the world.

Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religions, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion.

Selected article

Kotokuin Kamakura Daibutsu Amida Great Buddha Outdoor Statue Kanagawa prefecture Japan.
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, who lived between approximately 563 and 483 BCE. Originating in India, Buddhism gradually spread throughout Asia to Central Asia, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, as well as the East Asian countries of China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan.

The aim of buddhist practices is to become free of suffering, or dukkha. Some schools emphasize awakening the practitioner to the realization of anatta (egolessness, the absence of a permanent or substantial self) and achieve enlightenment and Nirvana. Other Buddhist scriptures (the "Tathagatagarbha" sutras) encourage the practitioner to cleanse him/herself of the mental and moral defilements of the "worldly self" and thereby penetrate through to a perception of the indwelling "Buddha-Principle" ("Buddha-nature"), also termed the "True Self" (see "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"), and thus become transformed into a Buddha. Some other schools appeal to bodhisattvas for a favourable rebirth. Some others do none of these things. Most, if not all, Buddhist schools also teach followers to perform good and wholesome actions, to avoid bad and harmful actions. There can be very large differences between different Buddhist schools of thought.

Selected picture

Kids dancing in 'The Great Masi Procession' during Ayya Vaikunda Avataram.
Credit: Vaikunda Raja

The Ayya Vaikunda Avataram (Tamil: அய்யா வைகுண்ட அவதாரம் - Incarnation of Vaikundar), is a festival celebrated by the followers of Ayyavazhi on the 20th day of the Tamil Month of Masi, the date on which the Ayyavazhi followers believe that Lord Vaikundar arose from the sea at Thiruchendur. And the 'Tha Great Masi Procession' is the Procession from Nagercoil to Swamithope.

Selected religious figure or deity

"Muhammad" in Arabic calligraphy.
Muhammad (Arabic محمد muḥammad; also Mohammed, Mohamet, and other variants), (570-632 CE), was an Arab religious, political, and military leader who established Islam and the Muslim community (Ummah, Arabic: أمة). He united the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula into a federation of allied tribes with its capital at Medina.

For the last 23 years of his life, beginning at the age of forty (around 610), Muhammad claimed that he was receiving revelations from God delivered through the angel Gabriel. The content of these revelations, known as the Qur'an, was memorized and recorded by his followers and compiled into a single volume shortly after his death. The Qur'an, along with the details of Muhammad’s life as recounted by his biographers and his contemporaries, forms the basis of Islamic theology. Within Islam, he is considered the last and most important prophet of God (Arabic Allah). Muslims do not regard him as the founder of a new religion but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham and other prophets whose messages had become misinterpreted or corrupted over time.

Did you know...

  • ...that one key Confucian concept is that in order to govern others one must first govern oneself?
  • ...that Jain philosophy is a codification of eternal universal truths which at times lapse among humanity, but later reappear through the teachings of human beings who have gained enlightenment or omniscience?
  • ...that Wicca was previously an Old English word (pronounced: 'witcha'), meaning a male witch or wizard and 'wicce' was a female witch?


Latest religion/spirituality Wikinews
  • July 1: India: Kerala police registers case against bishop for allegedly raping nun more than a dozen times
  • June 29: Dutch senate votes in favour of face veil ban
  • June 11: India: Jodhpur police arrests man for 'sacrifice' of four-year-old daughter for Allah
  • May 27: Ireland votes to overturn 35-year-old constitutional ban on abortion
  • May 15: German beer company Eichbaum issues public apology for printing Saudi Arabian flag on beer bottle caps

On this day...

Selected quote

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.
Qur'an, (31:14)
More quotes...

Selected scripture

Amaterasu cave wide
Kojiki or Furukotofumi (古事記), also known in English as the Records of Ancient Matters, is the oldest surviving historical book recounting events of ancient earth in the Japanese language. A document claiming to be an older work, the Kujiki (which the Kojiki dates to AD 620), also exists, but its authenticity is questionable.

The Kojiki was presented by Ō no Yasumaro to Emperor Temmu in CE 680, based upon the events which had been memorized from the previous book, the Kujiki, and by those who held the stories which had been passed down over generations, as well as stories which had been memorized by Hieda no Are in 712. Despite the fact that many note a difference in some precepts of the Kojiki and similar Chinese stories, it is thought that these may have been stories which had traveled and become known in areas of Japan and China. Nevertheless, the idea that the Kojiki mimics deities descending from China to Japan, is incorrect due to the fact that the Kojiki is a story detailing the creation of deities, and throughout Chamberlain's translation in 1882, the area in which the events were said to have unfolded is not explained, and is thought to occur upon the "island" or land-mass created by Izanami and Izanagi.

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