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World Religions and Philosophies

Explores the major world religions and philosophies of Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
by

Maria Motika

on 15 September 2012

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Transcript of World Religions and Philosophies

By Maria Motika 7th period Basic Knowledge Confucianism was one of the philosophical systems that developed as a response to the collapsing political structure of the Zhou dynasty (also the time of the Era of the Warring States and the Hundred Schools of Thought). Confucianism was founded by Confucius.
Its purpose was to promote order by setting standard moral values that the Chinese rulers and peasants alike were to follow to ensure an orderly government and social system.
The faith maintained that a good government stemmed from tradition, and tradition was aided by having good personal virtue. By writing and expounding on this general statement, Confucius greatly contributed to China’s secular and thoughtful philosophical tradition that marked the Chinese classical civilizations and went on to influence later societies. Confucianism was most readily accepted among China’s upper classes, as they were more able to participate in Confucianism’s practices and rituals.
The faith did spread to lower classes. However, many members of these lower classes continued to practice traditional polytheistic religions, as they were not satisfied with Confucianism’s lack of spiritual relief. After Confucius’ death, some of Confucius’ followers wrote the Analects, a book of Confucian beliefs that would impact the Chinese bureaucracy’s civil service exams and emphasize political order and morality under the Han dynasty. During the Qin dynasty, though, Confucianism was attacked. Although Confucius did believe in the presence of animistic spirits, he did not encourage vast speculation on the nature of these spirits. Neo-Confucianism was synthesized from Confucianism, Chinese Buddhism, and Taoism during the Song and Ming dynasties.
Today, New Confucianism exists in East Asia and preserves traditional Neo-Confucianism views while incorporating modern aspects. Historical Sequence Buddha was born in 563 B.C.E. In 528, he revealed the Four Noble Truths after he had achieved enlightenment. From 259 to 232 B.C.E. was the reign of Ashoka, who greatly encouraged the spread and development of Buddhism under and beyond his empire. By 200 B.C.E, Buddhism reaches central Asia, and in 65 CE Liu Ying, a Han emperor, sponsored Buddhism in China. This marked the formal start of Chinese Buddhism. By the 1st century CE, there are as many as 500 Buddhist sects. From about 300-600 CE, the Vajrayana school of Buddhism developed, which emphasized how the recitation of magical phrases can help people achieve a good afterlife. Interactions With Other Faiths Buddhism developed alongside Hinduism in India. Although Ashoka temporarily increased its popularity, Buddhism in India ultimately declined in favor of Hinduism by the middle of the twelfth century CE. As Buddhism traveled to China, it encountered Confucianism. Most of China’s Confucian leaders disliked Buddhism and frowned upon its spiritual emphasis. China’s Daoism also reacted as a result of the Buddhist wave in China by heightening its organization and becoming more popular with peasants. Conquests by Islamic peoples decreased, and eventually eliminated, the Buddhist population in northern India around 1200 C.E. Key Figures The Buddha was the founder of the common beliefs Buddhists retain today. Although he did not consider himself as divine, he is worshiped as the divine god by modern Buddhists. Ashoka was a primary figure in Buddhist history because he encouraged Buddhism’s spread outside China and encouraged the construction of stupas, spherical Buddhist shrines. Beyond specific people, there were other important figures in Buddhism’s history.... The Buddha’s original disciples were crucial in spreading and explaining his knowledge to ordinary people. Beginning in the classical period, bodhisattvas were holy men who aided Buddhism in shifting from an ethical emphasis to one more spiritually based by helping ordinary people reach nirvana. Buddhist saints are important too. The original saints, called arhats, were Buddha’s disciples who had reached enlightenment. As time progressed, various Buddhist men and women who copied the original arhats’ insight and powers were identified as saints. Buddha’s disciples continue to exist today, as modern Buddhists such as Ajahn Chah helped spread Buddhist ideas around the world. The Dalai Lama is a key position in Tibetan Buddhism; the Dalai Lamas are considered to be descended from the bodhisattvas of compassion Today’s Dalai Lama is the fourteenth one--his name is Tenzin Gyatso, and he won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Mechanics There are four important doctrines Buddhists believe in today... The fourth doctrine in which Buddhists believe in is the three jewels, which are the Buddha, his teachings, and the Buddhist community, or sangha. There are the Four Noble Truths, which discuss human suffering; the Eightfold Path, which encourages the development of wisdom so one may receive enlightenment. The Three Signs of Being, which were created by Buddha as a way to describe life. The Three Signs of being are the dukkha, anicca, and the anatta. Three common symbols of Buddhism are the wheel of life, the lotus flower, and images of Buddha. The Buddhist Holy Book is called the Tripitaka or Pali Canon, and it is based on Buddha’s teachings. Buddhism is not centrally organized and there is not a heavy emphasis on detailed church structure, therefore today’s Buddhists tend to perform their worship, or puja, individually at home or in groups in shrines. Historical Sequence Confucianism and Daoism, which was another Chinese philosophy that arose at the end of the Zhou dynasty, had controversial views. Daoism, which had a mystical and spiritual emphasis, prevented Confucianism from completely dominating classical China’s philosophical tradition. The Confucians, although most strongly disagreed with Daoist beliefs, generally did not attack Daoism. Daoism became more harmonious with Confucianism when its priests agreed to convey loyalty to the government in their rituals. Interactions With Other Faiths Obviously, Confucianism emphasized political and social values more than spiritual values of the gods, therefore it did not compete with other religions over belief in a dominant god (like, for example, Islam and Christianity did). Many Confucian leaders even practiced other religions or philosophies besides Confucianism depending on their changing interests and moods. As Buddhism began to enter China, many Confucians did not support the spiritual Buddhist beliefs of the afterlife because they found it distracting from political and social duties. They even attacked the faith at times by driving away Buddhist missionaries. Buddhism impacted Confucianism, though, in that it encouraged the synthesizing of Confucianism and Buddhism to create a new philosophy, Neo-Confucianism. Confucianism also synthesized with Islam starting in the seventeenth century when the Chinese Hui Muslims incorporated Confucian values into the Han Kitab, a book of Chinese Islamic literature. Mechanics “What you do not want done to you, do not do to others.” Confucianism was essentially an ethical system that stressed a common need for personal virtue and obedience to the government.
One of the main elements of Confucianism, ren, conveyed the importance of unselfish humaneness within a community. The philosophy also encouraged filial piety, or respect and obedience toward one’s elders, as well as the veneration of ancestors.
Confucius said that people should greatly respect and obey people in social classes above them, while the upper classes should provide opportunity to the lower classes. Confucius believed that moral behavior was a key element in the recipe for a strong political structure.
He reinforced this by setting many standards for an honorable leader, saying that those under the authority of a virtuous leader will copy his good example.
Confucius ensured that his followers were carefully educated before they had were placed in authoritative positions. The Five Classics and the Four Books, books that relay Confucian values and studies, were later used in civil service examinations. Rulers must express concern for the well-being of their people, live a humble life, and refrain from personal excess.
In turn, those under the ruler’s power should remain loyal to the emperor and virtuously perform their duties in society. Confucius did seek to give people of lower classes opportunity, however, by giving them access to education and a possible rise in status if one showed the capabilities. In addition to a good emperor, Confucius stressed the significance of a well-run bureaucracy staffed by educated and culpable bureaucrats. Finally, Confucius stressed a harmonious family life, focusing on five major relationships between the ruler and the ruled, father and son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother, and elder friends and younger friends. Confucius lived from 551-479 B.C.E. and dedicated much of his life to teaching his philosophical beliefs to the Chinese. In 522 B.C.E., Confucius started his own school and focused on teaching students his beliefs throughout his philosophical career. 379-282 B.C.E. saw the life of Mencius, who further expounded on Confucian doctrine. From about 206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E. was the existence of the Han dynasty, which reinforced and developed traditional Confucian views. In this dynasty, Wu Ti introduced the civil service examination and incorporated Confucian studies into its content. The civil service exams flourished in China (and later Japan and Korea) up until the twentieth century, when it was desisted by imperial rule. In the 13th century C.E., Xhu Zi modified the Confucian canon by collecting what is now known as the Four Books. In China, Confucian values remained a strong influence in political structure and government until the twentieth century, when Communism arrived. Geographical Spread Under the classical Chinese Han dynasty, Confucianism became increasingly supported and spread throughout China. Today, modern Confucian values are followed mostly eastern and southeastern Asia in the countries of China, Taiwan, Korea (by the fourth century CE), and Vietnam, where they have been adopted by scholars.
Confucianism is also found in Singapore and in Japan, where it was introduced in the 6th century CE and influenced Japan’s 17 Article Constitution and civil service exams.
It spread to these countries primarily after it was reformed as Neo-Confucianism. Western scholars have also been intrigued by Confucian doctrines, but Confucianism never received the widespread approval in the West that it did in China and other parts of eastern Asia. Confucianism was initially spread by Confucius’ followers after his death, and some of his disciples (particularly Mencius, who traveled all of China to give reformative advice to rulers much like Confucius did) furthered the philosophy so that it came to receive more popularity than it initially did in Confucius’ lifetime. Key Figures Confucius, or Kung Fuzi, lived in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE and was the founder of Confucianism. During his life, he taught his students his beliefs of political and social humaneness. They carried them on to preserve Confucius’ legacy. During the Han dynasty, Confucius' beliefs became a defined political and religious system with the help of Han leaders such as Emperor Wu Ti.
Confucian values had been buried under the legalistic practices of the Qin dynasty, but Wu Ti revived Confucianism because he saw it as a necessary addition to the government.
Wu Ti even erected shrines that encouraged the worship of Confucius as a god.
Under Wu Ti, Confucianism became a much more powerful and centralized practice as well as the official state philosophy. One of the most famous Confucians, Mencius, who lived from 372-289 BCE, is said to have been taught by Confucius’ grandson, Zisi.
Mencius developed thoughts on education, destiny, human nature, and politics.
He said that human nature was innately good, it was only spoiled because of the negative cultivating impact society had on man.
The Mencius, which relays conversations between Mencius and classical-age kings, is one of the Four Books of Confucianism. The principle beliefs of Xunzi, another Confucian philosopher, contrasted with Mencius’ in that he said human nature is innately bad and the duties society helped restrain this evilness. The Xunzi is a book of Xunzi’s essays on topics such as heaven and human disposition. Confucianism In the twentieth century, both the Chinese Buddhist society and the World Fellowship of Buddhists were established. Buddhism was the second major faith to develop in India. Today, it is found all over the world, but is concentrated the most in southeast and central Asia. Basic Knowledge Its founder was Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince who abandoned his royal life to contemplate and starve his body so he could find the cause of human suffering.
Gautama determined the causes to be human want and the material world, so he traveled to communicate these beliefs.
He was later identified as the Buddha. Buddhism, under the Buddha’s guidance, encouraged equality and self-control. Buddha taught that a person is reincarnated until they can break out of this cycle by achieving enlightenment. Buddhists retain the original teachings of Buddha today, believing that by following Buddha’s teachings they can reach enlightenment and nirvana. In Buddhism’s history of more than 2,500 years, the faith has evolved into three major forms, much like Christianity has divided into multiple denominations.
These major forms are the Theravada, Mahayana, and Hinayana. Geographical
Spread Under Ashoka, Buddhism spread from India to the Harem Basin, Sri Lanka, Athens, Alexandria, and still other regions. The Kushans, the rulers of India after the decline of the Mauryan Empire, continued to support Buddhism’s spread and adoption--but hurt its popularity in India by identifying it under their foreign rule. Therefore, classical age Buddhism grew to more heavily effect civilizations in central, east, and southeast parts of Asia apart from India... where the majority of the religion’s followers remain today. The spread of Buddhism depended heavily on Buddhist monks and nuns who set up monasteries and religious communities along trade routes.
Travelers and merchants along these routes were able to learn about Buddhism through these nuns and monks, and became able to spread knowledge of the religion themselves. Buddhism also traveled to central Asia and China on the Silk Roads.
By the time of the Sui dynasty in 589 C.E., Buddhism had spread across all of China. Buddhism arrived in Korea about 372 B.C.E., Nepal in 400 B.C.E., and in Japan and Tibet at a later time, around the sixth century C.E. Buddhism also spread west to Arsacid Parthia. Hinduism The name “Hindu” comes from the Indus River, the site of the ancient Indian river valley civilization.
Hinduism evolved over many centuries from the traditions of the Aryans, an Indo-European people who invaded the Indian subcontinent from about 1600-1000 BCE. Basic Knowledge Hinduism developed gradually and into diverse ways of worship because, unlike most other world religions, it did not have a single founder. Hinduism developed on the basis of the original Aryan religion, which was gradually elaborated to express beliefs of a superior divinity that had control over all nature.
Works of India’s Vedic and Epic Ages, such as the Rig-Veda and the Upanishads challenged the traditional brahman religion of set rituals and ceremonies and encouraged speculation on more mystical and spiritual theories. Brahmans/brahmins, or priests, furthered Hinduism by altering the gods of the pantheistic Indian religion so that they exemplified more abstract concepts.
Thus, early Hinduism is known as brahmanism. Hinduism would eventually come to accept many paths of worship, from set rituals to more mystical practices, as well as both spiritual and earthly goals.
This made the religion very versatile and adaptable, helping to increase the faith’s popularity. As it developed, Hinduism provided a balance between mysticism and the importance of a good moral life on earth.
Hinduism encouraged people to perform worldly duties, such as serving in the family and the government, in addition to spiritual worship.
The religion allowed its followers to pursue political and economic goals, called artha, and wordly pleasures, called karma. Hinduism enforced dharma, a moral path that acted as a guide to living a wholesome life in one’s caste position and serving the family and community.
Hindus also enforced the idea that everything in the world was formed by a basic holy essence, or brahma. Historical Sequence Very important in Hinduism’s history are the events that happened during India’s pre-classical formative period from 1600-500 BCE. From 900-600 B.C.E., the religion of the brahmans evolves.
From 800-300 B.C.E., the major Upanishads are written. They include thoughts about reincarnation and karma, which would be important Hindu beliefs up to the modern day. Around 600 B.C.E., Hindu worship, or puja, began to develop doctrines such as equality among worshipers, and from this time until 1000 C.E., epics are written that dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu and mother goddess Devi. The seventeenth to nineteenth centuries C.E. see another Hindu Renaissance, in which the ancient Upanishads were newly interpreted and there were movements of social reform. In 1895, Vivekananda formed the Vendata Society, which encouraged Hinduism to become a worldwide religion and India its own nation. Key Figures Gurus were mystical brahmans who taught the Gupta princes of the imperial court and gathered disciples.
They agreed with other brahman priests on specific beliefs, such as the presence of brahma, but unlike the other brahmans, they stressed the more spiritual side of Hinduism as the religion grew. The Gupta rulers, from 319-535 C.E., supported Hinduism, as they were Hindus themselves.
They fully supported the caste system and built towering Hindu temples throughout the reaches of their empire. In the contemporary period, Mahatma Gandi, who lived from 1869-1948, was a Hindu reform leader who led the Indian resistance movement to British colonial rule.
His encouraged non-violence and equality.
People around the world today view Gandhi as a symbol of peace and freedom. Important Hindu figures obviously include the gods. Hindus believe there are multiple forms of one god, Brahman. These forms are... Brahma, the creator Vishnu, the preserver Shiva, the destroyer Beyond these three major gods, there are minor gods and goddesses in which the spirit of brahma is also manifest. Mahadevi, the mother goddess, represents multiple gods or goddesses of the principal Hindu deities. Mechanics Hindus believe that the divine spirit of brahma is present in multiple gods or in multiple forms of a single god, Brahman.
They also believe in atman, or a spiritual part of brahma that exists in everyone.
The Hindu religion stresses the importance of finding union with the brahma. As Hinduism developed in classical-age India, it reinforced the caste system.
This was because Hindus believed that, after death, one either falls or rises to a different level of the system based on the moral life they led on earth.
Karma is the series of either good or evil deeds one committed in his or her life. The souls of those with good karma enter a higher caste, while those with bad karma fall to a social level or to an animal.
After one’s soul has lived various good lives, it experiences moksha, or unification with the divine soul of the brahma. To help guide the people of the caste system, Hinduism enforced the aspect of dharma, which is the caste position into which one is born and the moral path he/she should follow in that position.
However, in modern-day India, steps have been made to ensure that the Hindu enforcement of the caste system is not nearly as severe as it was in classical India. Hinduism spread widely in India partly because of the hope it provided for all classes of the caste system. While the upper classes were encouraged by the aspect of achieving moksha, the lower classes hoped for rebirth into a higher caste. Today, the four major goals, or purusharthas, of the Hindus are moksha, dharma, artha, and karma.
The scared book of Hinduism is the Vedas, written in Sanskrit.
Hindus can perform their worship, or puja, in Mandirs, temples dedicated to specific gods.
Hindus consider certain animals to be sacred, including cattle. Therefore, the religion forbids its followers to eat beef. Interactions With Other Faiths During the classical age, Hinduism competed with Buddhism for the title of India’s leading religion. Eventually Hinduism overtook Buddhism as India’s most practiced religion, and it remains so today. In India, Hinduism has also had to co-exist with the other religions of Sikhism and Jainism, and as a result of this the the religions share certain fundamentals, like belief in dharma. Hinduism has had to protect itself from Islamic violence, as Muslims occasionally attacked the religion from about 977 CE onward.
Regional defenses by Indian rulers such as the Rajputs, and the Marathas in the sixteenth century, helped protect the Hindus from Islamic assault as long as they supported the Islams economically and militarily when under Islamic rule.
There is evidence that Islamic themes influenced Hindu doctrines and practices. Geographical Spread Throughout world history, Hinduism has been the most heavily concentrated in India and South Asia. Until modern times, some Hindus believed that Hinduism should be practiced only in the Indian subcontinent and that those who left the continent by way of “the black ocean” lost their Hindu status. Hinduism nonetheless spread to Southeast Asia on the Indian Ocean by way of merchants. In these areas, the religion saw multiple converts. Indian Ocean islands the religion spread to included Malaysia, Britain, Australia, and areas of sub-Saharan Africa, all of which have semi-moderate/moderate concentrations of Hindus today. Today, Hinduism, the third most popular religion in the world, is contained mostly in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Guyana. Over 80% percent of India’s population practices the religion. Basic Knowledge The monotheistic religion of Judaism was founded in about the second millennium B.C.E.
Today, it is the smallest of the biggest monotheistic religions, with about 18 million followers. The religion has shown remarkable adaptability and the aptitude to preserve many of its elements during its spread to new lands and cultures and throughout various attacks on the faith by anti-Semitics. Like Christianity and Islam, Judaism acknowledges Abraham as the first prophet. Thus, all three monotheistic religions are considered “Abrahamic religions.”
Jewish history began with the establishment of a covenant, or promise, between God and the biblical character of Abraham.
The first day of the Jewish calendar, however, is the day God created Adam and Eve. The Palestinian area and the modern country of Israel, today dominated by a Jewish population, was the important center in which the faith originally developed. Different cultural groups of Jews from areas such as Eastern Europe have immigrated to Israel to escape the protests against Judaism in their own countries.
Judaism is unique in that it did not have a missionary focus.
Jews did not try to extensively proselyte non-Jews. Modern Judaism is divided into different denominations, such as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist, the major four that exist in contemporary North America. Orthodoxy is dominant in Israel. Judaism emphasizes common obedience to behavioral rules more than it does controversies over differences in Jewish theory and belief. Historical Sequence God and Abraham formed a covenant in about 1812 B.C.E. In 1312 B.C.E., God helped Moses led The Lord's chosen people, the Israelites, out of Egypt to go to the promised land. This is known as the Exodus. In 931 B.C.E., the Jews are split into two kingdoms: Israel and Judah. Around 900 B.C.E., a part of Torah was written called the Jahwist. The Jahwist uses the term “Yahweh” to refer to God. From 740-700 B.C.E., the prophesy of Isaiah occurred when Isaiah warned the people of Judah of the coming exile of God’s people and restoration to the land when the exile was over. In 539 B.C.E., the Persian leader Cyrus the Great lets the Jews return to Palestine, where they had been exiled from 58 years ago. In 63 C.E., Palestine became the province of Judea in the Roman Empire. When they rebelled against the empire in 132 C.E., they were scattered throughout the empire in a diaspora (exile). Between the fifth and second centuries C.E., the Talmud ( book of Jewish law) is written. Britain ruled Palestine from 1918 until the year of 1948, when Israel became an independent nation. From 1938-1945, likely the most tragic event in Jewish history unfolded under the leader Adolf Hitler, an anti-Semitic who terminated eastern European Jews. About six million Jews were killed in what is known as the Holocaust. Interactions with Other Faiths Judaism, during its years of development, faced some persecution among peoples of polytheistic religions (such as the Romans) for their monotheism. Judaism greatly impacted Islam and Christianity, as elements of both religions stemmed off of Judaism. In roughly the years from 500-700 CE, Judaism experienced a number of attacks from Islamic peoples.
Muhammad, the final prophet of Islam, destroyed Jewish Arabic and Banu Kurara Tribes because they refused to covert to the Muslim religion. Problems developed between Judaism and Christianity in Christian areas of Europe. Christians there discriminated against the Jews and even assaulted them. Key Figures In Jewish history are a number of figures whose actions and influence can be seen in the Hebrew bible… Jesus was a Jew, and from him came the development of Christianity. Because Judaism began with the covenant between God and Abraham, today’s Jews believe Abraham, who lived around 1500 BCE, to be the father of the Jews and the monotheistic religion. Moses, who lived 391-1217 BCE, is a significant person in Jewish history because he led God’s people out of slavery in Egypt and created the Ten Commandments.
The Temple that held the Ark of the Covenant was built under Moses, but the Temple was destroyed.
Another was built under King Herod. When this one was destroyed in 70 CE, only the Western Wall still stood. The Wall is a major place of pilgrimage for Jews today. The United Monarchy consisted of the kings Saul, David, and Solomon, who ruled in the “Promised Land,” or the area where God was believed to have led the Hebrews to after they left Egypt.
Under King Solomon, the Hebrew monarchy saw its glory days, but King Solomon himself declined in the eyes of the Jews because of his immoral sins. Less specifically, prophets are very important figures in Judaism's history because they were and are considered to be the teachers of the works of God, as chosen by God himself.
Prophets are role models for holiness and piety that ordinary worshipers may follow and listen to the teachings of God through.
In Jewish history, prophets include Abraham and his son Isaac, Jacob, and Moses and his brother Aaron. Mechanics The major symbol of modern-day Judaism is the Star of David.
Another symbol is the menorah, which symbolizes the burning bush Moses saw on Mount Sinai. Jewish leaders are called rabbis, who preach in synagogues and are teachers of the Jewish holy book, the Torah.
The Torah consists of the first five books of the Hebrew bible and also makes up the first five books of the Tanach—the entire collection of Jewish scriptures. The Jewish holy day, called the Shabbat, is from Friday night to Saturday night. Jews are not supposed to work on this day. Jewish festivals and holidays commemorate important events in Jewish history.
-Passover, an eight day festival, commemorates the freedom of God’s people from Egypt.

-Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year.

-Jews spend a day of fasting and praying on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

-Hannukah, or the Festival of Lights, occurs around the time of Christmas and celebrates the re-dedication of Jerusalem’s second temple and the miracle of how the menorah in the temple burned for eight days with only one day’s worth of oil.

-On a more solemn note, the occasion of Yash HaShoah is a day dedicated to the remembrance of the Holocaust. Jews have ceremonies called bat mitzvahs (for girls) and bar mitzvahs (for boys) that welcome girls and boys of a certain age into the world of Jewish adults. Geographical Spread Judaism developed in the Middle East, but has spread to all areas of the world over the course of world history. One key center of the religion was in Babylon, where Babylonian Jews were able to amalgamate their own religious institutions and authorities even though they lived within range of the Islamic peoples.
They did this mainly through the formations of yeshavat, centers of learning and judicial and religious matters. Because the Babylonian Jews were sent on a diaspora through the Islamic lands, they went to regions in North Africa around the tenth century C.E.
In the twentieth century, though, Jews became unable to live on the fringes of Islamic societies because they were persecuted by the Muslims. Since two thousand years ago, there have been Jewish communities in all parts of Asia along port cities and on the Spice Route, which went to south India, and along the Silk Roads, particularly in central Asian areas. Around 1600 CE, many Jews emigrated to Poland because they were being expelled from Germany and because of the land’s promising economical state.
After a desecrating Swedish invasion in areas of Poland, however, many Jews began to move westward again to central Europe and Britain. Today, the largest concentrations of Jews exist in Israel and the United States. Christianity Basic Knowledge Christianity began as an extension of Judaism when some early Jews believed that Jesus, born in Judea in about 4 B.C.E., was the promised Messiah sent by God to save his people from their sins. Jesus and his twelve disciples preached about love, forgiveness of sins, and the importance of believing in God.
Jesus was executed when Jewish and Roman officials saw him as a threat to their authority.
He rose from the dead three days later.
Modern Christians celebrate his birth at Christmas and his resurrection on Easter. After Jesus died, his followers slowly began to travel and preach their beliefs of how God sent his holy son, Jesus, to redeem human sin. Christianity spread at a convenient time, because the luster of the traditional Greco-Roman religion, which featured an array of human-like gods and goddesses, was fading.
Many Romans, particularly women and the poor, were enthusiastic about this new religion. Christianity’s rituals, promises of salvation, and the encouragement to live a life of simplicity were received well by peasants.
Many women found the developing religion satisfying because of its emphasis on the equivalent importance of both men and women. Christian men and women could also worship together. Christianity was a unique religion in the Mediterranean because it stressed spiritual rituals and equality as well as the dominance of one god. This was very unlike the earlier polytheistic religion of classical Greece and Rome.
Christians also put loyalty to their god before obedience to the government, which did lead to problems for the religion’s followers, who were persecuted by members of the imperial court who did not want to lose their power. Christianity outlived the Roman Empire, however, and continued to win the devotion of millions of people worldwide—making it the world’s most popular religion. Mechanics Christians developed the belief that a virtuous life is spent worshiping God and helping society.
These Christian duties were more important than worldly concerns and pleasures. Although Christianity allowed its followers to lead a balanced life, especially with the formation of the Benedictine Rule, the religion encouraged strong piety. The doctrine of asceticism, giving up physical pleasures for a better relationship with God, takes its roots in the Middle East. A key Christian doctrine relates that god has three forms: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This is called the Trinity. Christians believe in the concepts of heaven and hell.
Those who lead a virtuous life and believe in God and Jesus enter heaven after death, while those who have led a bad life descend to hell. Christianity’s church structure came to parallel the form of Rome’s provincial government.
The Christian church retains this emphasis on organizational structure today...
Many of today’s Christians attend church regularly and consider Sunday to be the Sabbath, or the day or worship. Today, there are about 38,000 denominations of Christianity.
Major branches include Roman Catholicism, Anglican, and Orthodox. The Christian holy book, the Bible, is divided into Old Testaments, parts of which Jews and Muslims consider holy as well, and the New Testament.
The Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue, are found in book of Exodus in the Bible. were given to Moses from God and set down rules for a virtuous life that Christians still follow today. A great many of the original Hindu beliefs are maintained by modern followers of the religion. Historical Sequence Jesus was born
in about 3 B.C.E. In 60 C.E., the first gospel was published, thought to have been written by Mark. After a lifetime spent teaching the word of God, he was crucified in about 30 C.E. Bible translations into multiple languages, such as Latin and English, would occur centuries later; for example, King James appointed 42 scribes to write the Bible into English in 1611. Things began to look up for the Christians in 313, when Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan, which allowed religious freedom under the Roman Empire. Christians could now practice and develop their religion in peace in the Roman state. 700 years later, the great Christian Schism of 1054 occurred when the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches diverged because of tensions between the Greek-speaking East under the Byzantine Empire (Constantinople) and the Latin-speaking Western church (Rome). In 451 CE, the Coptic church was formed as a result of the Council of Chalcedon. In 1517, Martin Luther published the 95 Theses, setting the Protestant Reformation into motion. 2005 saw the death of Pope John Paul II, who was thought to be one of the twentieth century’s most prominent leaders. Interactions With Other Faiths A key reason for Christianity’s strength and endurance is because it does not tolerate competing beliefs. The Christian church in Constantinople and Rome viewed Islam as a threat to their political structures and beliefs.
Because of this, the Christians embarked on a series of pilgrimages, called the Christian Crusades, to attempt to rescue the Holy Land and the eastern Mediterranean from the Muslims. The Crusades were failures and did not reduce the spread of Islam. All they did was heighten the tension between Christians and Muslims. Although Christianity and Islam both originated from the religion of Judaism, they have very contradictory beliefs that have led to tense problems between the two religions... Christianity has also interacted with Buddhism... It is thought that the Buddhist Ashoka influenced aspects of early Christianity by sending missionaries to the land in which it developed.
Also, since the 1960’s, Buddhism has been gaining popularity in North America, a Christian-dominated country. Christianity’s influence, however, in many Asian countries has been slight because the faith has been seen as a threat to political and social conditions. Important
Figures Jesus of Nazareth was the person who, in essence, started Christianity. Christians believe him to be the redeemer of their sins and the role model Christians must endeavor to be like. Jesus’s 12 original disciples, also referred to later
as the 12 Apostles, served as witnesses of Jesus’s miracles, learned from him, and taught others
in turn. Constantine, the emperor of Rome from 306 to 337 C.E., was important for Christianity because he allowed it to develop under the Roman Empire.
He became a Christian himself, hoping that if the religion gained popularity under his rule, it might allow for a way to culturally unify the decaying Empire. Although this did not happen, Christianity nevertheless benefited from Constantine’s support. The Apostle Paul of Tarsus was an active missionary and promoted the idea that the Christians were forming a new religion, not simply part of a Jewish movement.
Paul impacted church structure by allowing groups to choose elders to guide them and a bishop to guide each city. Benedict of Nursia developed a monastery in Italy and created the Benedictine Rule in the 6th century, which lessened the gap between ordinary Christians and devout priests and nuns. Most Christians, especially Roman Catholics, venerate or at least honor saints.
Saints were and are very important figures in Christian history because of their devotion to God, good works in life, and lessons they teach that Christians may learn from. The pope, who was initially the bishop of Rome and remains so today, became an important figure in Christianity in the Western Mediterranean and is today the leader of the Catholic church. Modern Christians continue to impact Christianity.
Mother Teresa, a Christian nun who went on missionary trips to help the poor and sick. She died in 1997.
Billy Graham is alive today and is one of the most influential evangelists in Christian history. Geographical Spread Christianity spread in the Middle East and Europe with the help of the Roman road system, more than 400,000 kilometers of paths that stretched through the vast expanses of the Roman Empire.
Christian disciples, such as Paul, traveled along the Roman roads while on missionary expeditions. Christian missionaries also traveled to Persia, Ethiopia, Axum, and even India, further spreading Christianity beyond its centers in Europe and Southwest Asia. Monasteries throughout Europe became important destinations for Christian pilgrimages. Christianity encouraged great numbers of widespread conversions in the classical era, as conversions were the main goal of missionary trips. After the collapse of the western Roman Empire, Christianity reached northern Europe and the Slavic lands of Russia and the Balkans. Today, Christianity remains the dominant religion of Europe as well as the Americas. Sub-Saharan Africa and the Philippines are also concentrated centers of the Christian religion. Basic Knowledge "Islam" means "submission, the self-surrender of the one, true God Allah." The followers of Islam are known as Muslims. Muhammad was the prophet of Islam.
He received revelations from the archangel Gabriel and began to preach his beliefs, three years later, that claimed the existence of one god, Allah. Muhammad's life was threatened, however, by merchants of Mecca, his birthplace, who believed that if Muhammad's monotheistic views became accepted, they would lose profits they got from pilgrimages to the Ka'aba, a meteorite encased in a cube. Ironically, pilgrimage to the Ka'aba is a major duty of Muslims today.
Muhammad and his fellow believers fled to Yathrib (Medina), where they were able to prophet the new religion freely to growing numbers of believers. Muhammad's flight to Medina became the first year of the Muslim calendar, the hijrah. Mechanics The teachings of Islam require that Muslims follow a set of regulations during their lifetime; together these regulations are known as The Five Pillars. Shahadah- proclaiming one's faith to Allah Salah: prayer five times a day facing Mecca Zakat: giving money to charity Saum: fasting during Ramadan Hajj: pilgrimage to the Ka'aba in Mecca, the holy city The Muslim building of worship is a mosque, or masjid, often built with a minaret, a thin tower in which the muezzin calls the Islams to pray. Before prayer in the mosque, the Muslims must cleanse themselves. There are also six major people or objects that today's Muslims believe in: Allah as the only true god of the universe
Angels
The holy books (the Quran)
Prophets, including Abraham, Jesus, and Muhammad as the final one
The final day of judgement
Predestination, yet free will of man Besides the Quran, there is another book Muslims read; it is called the Hadith based on Muhammad's teachings. The Muslims' moral law, called the shariah, established after Muhammad's death orderly standards for political and judicial life. Geographical Spread Islam expanded very rapidly and over a diverse geographical area. Today, Muslims account for over one billion of the world's people. It is the second most practiced religion in the world. The Buddha Mahayana Buddhist Theravada Buddhist It differed from other major world religions (Christianity, Buddhism) in that it converted people by taking control of them militarily, as Muslim leaders became very concerned with expanding their power. The religion spread from the Arabian peninsula, most of which was Islamic-dominated soon after Muhammad's death, to Persia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and parts of central Asia by the seventh century C.E. 100 years later, Islam had reached northwestern African countries, such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
The faith also reached northwestern India and western Europe in Spain and Portugal. Islam in Spain became known as Al-Andalus. Although it would remain popular in north Africa, the religion failed to see continuous dominance in Europe and India, as most people native to these areas continued to practice their religions already established there. Today, Islam is concentrated mostly in its area of origin and northern African countries as well as the Stans region in central Asia.
Islam is also the dominant religion in Turkey, a little of Russia, and much of Indonesia. In western Africa, Ghana's rulers converted to Islam in the tenth century C.E., and Mali's 300 years later.
Both countries synthesized many of their own beliefs and practices into the Islamic faith. Islam spread to eastern Africa mostly by way of the Indian Ocean; here, important Islamic cultural centers were created.
However, many East African women resisted the religion because of its restrictions of women's freedoms that the women did not have to deal with before the arrival of the faith. In Egypt, the Mamluk dynasties also established numerous Islamic cultural centers throughout the country, making Egypt an important center for Muslim learning. Key Figures Allah is the one god that Islams believe is omnipotent and can do all things. Muslims believe in many of the prophets and holy figures that Christians believe in, such as:
Noah
Abraham
Moses
Jesus, although they do not believe he is the son of God Muslims believe Muhammad was the "Seal of the Prophets," or the last prophet chosen by God to teach mankind about the divine force. He finished the thoughts of all the prophets that came before him. Islam reached northern Australia in about 1650 C.E., carried there by Muslim fishermen. The people are divided into two sects: the Sunni and the Shia.
Today, about 90% of Muslims are Sunni and 10% Shia. Muslims believe that Ishmael is the son of Abraham and ancestor of Muhammad. They believe that he was active in the construction of Mecca and the Ka'aba. In the twentieth century, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini created an Islamic government in Iran after overthrowing Iran's secular government in the what became known as Iranian Revolution. He died in 1989. Historical Sequence Islam arose in Arabia in the 6th century C.E. The religion was incited by Muhammad, who went to Medina in 622 C.E. and back to Mecca in 629 C.E, thus beginning the tradition of the hajj. John the Baptist baptized Jesus and said that Jesus was the savior of mankind. Muhammad died from an illness in 632 C.E. 20 years later, the Quran was compiled. In 633 C.E., the
Muslim conquests began. Muhammad saw his religion as a completion of Judaism and Christianity. He viewed himself, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as Allah's major prophets. In the years following Muhammad's death, there were two caliphates that were important Islamic capitals.
The Umayyad caliphate in Damascus, Syria, respected the Jews and Christians and allowed them religious freedom.
The Abbasid Caliphate constructed forms of monumental Muslim architecture used today, such as minarets. Mystical Muslims, sufis, spread Islam through their missionary work. Women in Islamic society came to have average freedoms: they were equal to men in the eyes of Allah, but could not pray next to men. Also, while their husbands were allowed multiple wives, Muslim women could only have one. Right after Muhammad died, Abu-Bakr, chosen by the umma, became the first caliph. Two caliphs later, Ali (Muhammad's son-in-law) became the next caliph. Many argued over his succession, and this disagreement ultimately led to the split of the Muslims into the Shia and Sunni sects around 661. Also after Muhammad's death, the Umayyad caliphate rose to power. However, social unrest led to the Umayyad empire's decline in 750 C.E. Under the Abbasid caliphate, autonomous kingdoms rose. A Persian kingdom had sultans who took over Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid empire, in 945 C.E. These Persians ruled with the Seljuks, a central Asian people who controlled Baghdad by the eleventh century C.E. The Abbasid caliphate was terminated about 300 years later because of Mongol invasions. The Christian Crusades, spurred on by Christians because of divisions in the Muslim world and the Seljuks' capture of Jerusalem, began in 1095 C.E. Although the Muslims lost territory as a result of the Crusades, they gained most of it back by the twelfth century. The Mongols' takeover issued the coercion that made Egypt a prosperous center for Islam in the 14th and 15th centuries C.E. In 1930 C.E., Wallace Fard Muhammad made the Nation of Islam in the United States. He built on traditional Muslim beliefs, creating new modifications for the Islamic religion (e.g., the fact Elijah Muhammad is a prophet). In 1299 C.E, an early Ottoman state formed in Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was the last of the Islamic empires. After various achievements, such as conquering Constantinople and renaming it Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire declines in World War I. Interactions With Other Faiths Jews and Christians under Muslim rule were generally given religious and (to an extent) political freedom. The Islams considered the Jews, Christians, and also Zoroastrians to be "People of the Book" and dhimmi, or protected people. Islamic expansion into India proved to be a very hard and bloody conquest. Muslims destroyed Buddhist schools and contributing to the decline of Buddhism in India. Hinduism survived better under Islamic invasions; many Muslim leaders were tolerant of the religion. Throughout world history, the views that Muslims had on peoples of other faiths have varied greatly in time period and place. Relief of Ashoka
the Great. It is most likely that Ashoka converted to Buddhism after the guilt he acquired from dominating his enemies the bloody Kalinga War. Buddhism The Four
Noble Truths Hinayana Buddhists Maitreya the bodhisattva World Fellowship of Buddhists conference The Three Jewels, or The Three Refuges--Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha--are written here in Sanskrit, the sacred and ancient Indian language. Brahmans continue to serve today. Here, a Nepalese brahman priest is pictured in Nepal. Part of the Rig-Veda Creation Hymn An example of modern Hindu puja The caste system. Below the Sudras was a fifth group of untouchables; they performed the most defiling work. From 1600-1400 B.C.E., the Aryans conquered the Indus River Valley and pushed further into India.
The Aryans introduced the caste system and the language of Sanskrit.
They greatly impacted the development of the Hindu religion. For 800 years, from 400 B.C.E. to 800 C.E., Hinduism strengthens and develops its teachings. This is partly in response to the competition it sees from other Indian religions, especially Buddhism and Jainism. From about 400-500 C.E., Hinduism becomes India's dominant religion.
The construction of new Hindu temples, monuments, and ideas create a Hindu Renaissance during the time of this century. Raja Ram Mohan Roy contributed to the restatement of the Upanishads to emphasize reform movements Karma and reincarnation This Hindu temple was built during the reign of the Guptas. The time of the Gupta empire is considered to be The Golden Age of India. Gandhi peacefully protests against the salt law by leading his followers to the sea at Dandi in India to gather salt. Gandhi was known for his ways of nonviolent resistance. Mahadevi Saraswathi is the goddess of wisdom and the wife of Brahma. Ganesha is the son of Shiva and his wife Parvati. Ganesha Saraswathi Geographical Spread of Hinduism The Analects The essence of Neo-Confucianism The spread of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism During the Qin dynasty, the Burning of the Books and The Burying of the Scholars resulted in a temporary decrease in Confucianism's popularity, thus impeding its spread. Qin Shi Huangdi of the Qin dynasty feared losing central power to scholars. To solve this, he attacked intellectuals and burned books of official culture. At Confucius Shrine in Nagasaki, Japan, there are statues of Confucius' 72 followers Emperor Wu Ti created the Han exam system into which Confucian values were incorporated. It is believed that Confucius and Laozi (the founder of Daoism) met and talked about rituals and morals. Confucius Mencius Xunzi The Four Books The Five Classics 1. Classic of Poetry
2. Book of Documents
3. Book of Rites
4. Classic of Changes
5. Spring and Autumn Anals
All of these Classics were impacted (edited, written by) Confucius in some way. 1. Great Learning
2. Doctrine of the Mean
3. Analects
4. Mencius
These were the center of the civil service exams in China's Qing and Ming dynasties. Abraham makes a covenant with God, which held that God would make Abraham's descendants "as numerous as the stars in the sky" if Abraham promised to follow God's word. Abraham was tested by God when he was told to slay his son Isaac, whom he loved. Abraham passed the test because, although the idea of killing Isaac was unbearable, he was nonetheless willing to obey God's every command. Just as he was about to kill Isaac, though, an angel saved him from having to do so. God appreciated Abraham's loyalty. His devout obedience to God is encouraged to be replicated amongst the Jewish faith. Three Jewish men pray at the Western Wall Moses leds the Israelites out of Egypt The Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, took the Jews were taken to concentration or death camps. A pointer called a yad is used for reading the Torah so that one does not defile the holy book. Jews light a candle each night of Hanukkah; by the eighth night, the menorah is glowing brightly. The ninth candle is the shamash, or helper, as it is used to light the other eight candles. A painting of Jews praying in a synagogue on Yom Kippur Spread of Christianity Jesus Jesus and his twelve disciples: Simon, Matthew, Peter, John, James, Philip, Nathaniel, Judas, etc. Saint John the Baptist Saint Paul St. Benedict St. Francis of Assisi Saint Michael the Archangel Saint Elizabeth of Portugal Today's Catholic pope is Benedict XVI. Billy Graham Mother Teresa Judaism The major Hindu symbol is the aum. It is said to be the sound produced when one is in deep meditation. The aum Buddha's two original disciples were Sariputta and Maggallana. Sariputta and Maggallana Tenzin Gyatso acquired complete political power when he was only fourteen years old. He negotiated with major world leaders, such as Mao Zedong. Islam The Muslim women's tradition of wearing a veil did not develop with the original religion; it was a custom that was adopted from Middle Eastern contacts. Mosque The Quran is believed by Muslims to be the final holy scripture. The Hadith is referred to today when regarding Islamic history and law. It offers Muhammad's approval or disapproval regarding certain acts. It is used to better understand the Quran, too. Sunni and Shia Distribution Geographical Spread Muhammad Khomeini The Noble Eightfold Path Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. The ornate design of the King James Bible reflected the florid language of the time it was written. Christians placed in the gladiator arena say one last prayer before their execution. Constantine In 1609 C.E., John Smyth founded the Baptist church. Muslim festivals inlude Ramadan, which celebrates the gift of the Quran; the Twelfth Day of Rabi I, which celebrate's Muhammad's birth; and Mirajun Nabi, which honors his journey from Mecca to heaven. The Umayyad Caliphate near its height Crusaders versus the Muslims Confucius the teacher Judea Harsh persecutions of the Christians occurred under the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius (who ruled from 161-180 C.E.) and Diocletian (who ruled from 284-305 C.E.).
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