People all over the world engage in worshiping God. However, these people worship God from different perspectives based on the religion to which they belong. The world’s major religions include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism. In general terms, religion concerns itself with the entire relationship that is there between the human beings and God as well as the relationships that is there among human beings themselves regarding the core value of God. When religion is considered objectively, it encompasses a collection of facts that are believed, a system of ethics that directs the way people conduct themselves, and a structure of heavenly worship. When religion is considered subjectively, this is an individual’s whole response to what faith demands both in a virtual and theoretical manner. It is a faith that lives and a personal commitment to the creator of the universe (“History of religion”). In this paper, there is going to look at the origins of the world’s major religions which include; Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism. The paper is also going to look at the eschatology each of these religions creates.
Origins of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism, and the eschatology each creates
According to Dolphin (Para 1), there are more than one billion devotees of the Islam religion all over the world. Out of these devotees, approximately a fifth of them is in the Middle East with the highest number being found in Indonesia. Considering those Muslims who live in the United States of America, there are around four million Muslims. It was Prophet Muhammad who started this religion and that was in the year 622 CE. Although this religion is the most recent to be set up as compared to other major religions, the people who embrace this religion (Muslims) do not consider the religion as being a young or new religion. They hold an idea that this is the very faith that was held by such people found in the Bible as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among other prophets. The part Muhammad played as being the last prophet was to make the faith clear and formal and also to make it to be pure by eliminating from it the concepts that are regarded as top have added on to the religion erroneously.
The Islam faith has two sacred texts. One of the sacred texts is the Quran and these are regarded as words of God or Allah, the one and only one God who is a true God, that were passed over to the Prophet Muhammad. The other text is the Hadith. This text is a collection of the sayings that were given by the Prophet Muhammad.
The Islam devotees abide by a firm monotheism with a single God who is the creator and this God is omnipotent and has great mercy for His people. These people also have a belief that Satan exists who plays a role in misleading God’s people, causing them to sin. They also believe that those people who engage in sinning and those that are unbelievers will go to Hell and stay there forever. Those Muslims who engage in sincere repentance and surrender unto God will be cleansed and they will no longer be seen by God as being sinners and they will go to a good place after they die and they will stay there forever. Muslims have respect for the prophets who were there before and among these prophets, they respect include such great people as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus among other prophets. However, they consider the notion of the divinity of Jesus as a concept that is irreverent and they do not have any belief that there was the execution of Jesus on the cross.
In considering Christianity, this religion was started as a faction to turn out to be independent of Judaism, approximately twenty centuries ago. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and when he was born and grew up, he was not comfortable about the religious practices and faith that was being embraced by the native Jewish among which he was born and following this, he commenced on delivering a message that was not similar to theirs about God and religion. In the course of the travels, Jesus obtained 12 followers (disciples) and traveled around with them, and engaged in teaching them. While he moved around, he performed several miracles and used many parables in the teachings that he presented to the people. At some point, he put it that he was the son of God and he had come on earth to deliver people out of their sins. He did deliver people by being hanged on the cross and this resulted from the teachings he was presenting to people. After his death, on the third day, he resurrected and appeared again to his disciples and gave them a message that they had to go around passing over his message to people in the world so that they can be saved from sin.
Christianity is closely related to Judaism and the two religions are very much similar in many ways regarding the main beliefs. However, there exist two basic differences between these religions. One of the differences is that those people who are of the Christianity faith have a belief in the original sin and they have a strong belief that Jesus came to play a role of delivering people from that original sin through his death and resurrection. The other difference is based on the claim that Jesus was completely human and also completely God and being the son of God, he is a portion of the “Holy Trinity” All the Christians have a belief in the existence of heaven and those people who engage in repentance in a sincere manner of the sins they have before their God, they will be cleansed and be saved from sin and they will have a chance to go to heaven and be with God. They also have a belief that there exists Satan and there exists hell.
However, within Christianity, there have arisen divisions and as a result of these, many forms of Christianity have come up. These divisions have resulted from the disagreements that have been there among these believers on dogmas, personal tastes, and preferences and also as a result of people adapting varied cultures. Because of these, many forms of Christianity have come up and these forms of Christianity in some cases may be viewed as different forms of religion (Spielvogel 171).
The Christianity religion, the Islam religion as well as Judaism have their roots in a covenant that was set up between the God of the people of Israel and Abraham. The leader who came thereafter (Moses) served as a leader who took the people of Israel from slavery out of Egypt to lead them to the Promised Land. Moses received the Ten Commandments from God which were to serve as the Law that the Israelites had to abide by. In the Promised Land, Samuel set up the Israelite kingdom and King Saul was the first King of this Kingdom. When King Solomon, later on, took over the Kingship, he set up the first time in the Kingdom. Later, in the year 70 CE, there was the destruction of this temple causing the Jewish people to be scattered all over the world up to 1948 which was a time there was the formation of the state of Israel (Moret 2).
The Jews people have a belief in a single God and it is this God alone that has to be worshiped as being the overall ruler of the whole world. This God carries out monitoring of all the activities that human beings engage in and gives rewards to those people who engage in doing good things and he punishes those people who engage in doing evil things (Kahane 397). There was the revelation of “The Torah” to the leader of the Israelites (Moses) by God Himself and there can be no alteration of this “Torah” even if God carries out communication to the Jews via His chosen prophets (Schoeni 10). The Jews people have a belief that there is in-built goodness of the earth and the people who live in it are God’s creations and therefore they do not need to have a savior to deliver from the original sin. The Jews have a strong belief among them that they are God’s chosen people and that in time to come, there will come up a savior and this savior will bring them together in Israel and all the dead people will rise again and there will be rebuilding of the temple that was demolished in the year 70 CE (Whapoe, 21).
According to Dolphin (Para 13) “although not commonly appreciated by most Christians and Jews, various sects of Islam, in their oral tradition, and from Koran, maintain a complex and intricate eschatology dealing with the end of the age and coming of a great leader, Mahdi”. It is pointed out that the center of the occurrences to come at the age’s end will not be in Mecca but Jerusalem instead. In these events or occurrences, Jesus is also going one of those great people is that going to take part in the grand judgment that will be coming. This is regarding Islam and how its devotees believe.
From the time there was the destruction of the “Second Jews temple” in the year 70 AD, the Jews people have not been in a position to engage in offering sacrifices for the sins that they commit. But on the other hand, the Islam devotees still carry out this to the current day and they engage in offering blood sacrifices. Every year they sacrifice a large number of lambs and they slaughter these lambs in the course of the pilgrimage (to Mecca).
There is an emulation of the Muslim more on the “Old Testament Jewish belief” than on the influence of the Christian religion, even if there was the existence of the Christian assemblies as well as Jewish synagogues in Arabia at a time Prophet Muhammad got the angelic revelations which directed him to engage in the writing of the Koran.
According to Dolphin (Para 16), a study that was carried out in recent times concerning the Muslim beliefs of end-time points out that “The Imamite doctrine of the Mahdi at one point merges with the return of Jesus, another prominent figure of Islamic eschatology. The doctrine of the return of Jesus, as described in the Sunnite sources and cited by the Shiite traditionists is explained in a more or less uniform manner.” It is further pointed out that he will come down in the “Holy Land”, somewhere by the name Afiq. He will come holding a spear in his hand and he will use this spear to kill al-Dajjal (Anti-Christ) and will proceed to Jerusalem where the Morning Prayer will be held. The Imam will make an effort to give him his seat but Jesus will not accept and will engage in worshiping following him by the “Muhammad Sharia”. From there, he “will slaughter a swine, break the cross, and kill all the Christians who do not believe in him” (Dolphin 18). The moment this is done “all “The Peoples of the Book” (this refers to the Jews and Christians) will believe him and will form one single umma of those who submit to the will of God” (Dolphin 19). Jesus will engage in setting up “the rule of justice” and will be there for forty years that will follow and then after this period, Jesus will die. The funeral ceremony will be held in Medina and this is a point where he will be buried next to Muhammad and this will be at a place that lies between Umar and Abu Bakr.
The Islam eschatological belief is undivided, allocating important roles to the Mahdi as well as to Jesus in the principle of resurrection or what is referred to as iqama. Dolphin (Para 11) points out that according to the exegetes of the Quran explain that the coming of Jesus in the course of the Mahdi’s leadership will cause the coming of “the Hour” to be known. “In the setting up of the Mahdi’s eschatological role within the traditions of Shiite, more focus was put on the Mahdi’s function as being the descendant of Muhammad as well as the Imam, who will, in turn, be followed by Jesus in prayer” (Dolphin Para 12).
According to Smith and Haddad (121), “it has been well-known (and generally accepted) by all Muslims in every epoch, that at the end of time a man from the family (of the Prophet) will without fail to make his appearance, one who will strengthen religion, and make justice triumph.” They go further to point out that, the Muslims will have to go after this man and the man will acquire supremacy over the Muslim kingdom. His name will be Mahdi.“After him, there will be the appearance of the anti-Christ and all the signs of the judgment day as set up in the Sahih”(Smith and Hadad 121). Following Mahdi, thereafter Jesus will come down and engage in taking away the lives of all the Antichrist, or that Jesus will come down in the company of the Mahdi who will assist him in the taking away of lives and have Jesus as one who will be directing in prayer.
It can not be expected that all the Muslims all over the world are so much learned in those matters concerning their religion and beliefs to a level that they have come up with a way they look at eschatology personally. However, what is of much interest is the fact that the Islam religion has put in place a belief system concerning “the end of ages, the coming of a great Iman Mahdi, a great judgment, a heaven and hell, and a God who is merciful and compassionate” (Dolphin Para 20).
According to “Series on Biblical eschatology” in ordinary terms, in the mind of Christians, eschatology is a term that refers to those occurrences that will be there in the time to come. About a person, eschatology would involve the death of the person, the person’s state after he or she dies, the person’s subsequent resurrection, among other events. Regarding the whole world, in ordinary terms, the term eschatology is a term taken to refer to the events at the end of the age and the events involve the “coming again of Jesus Christ, the resurrection, the last judgment, hell and heaven, and also the much-debated questions of the tribulation and the millennium” (“Series on biblical eschatology” Para 2).
The BBC News Magazine reports that, even though the mind about the end of the world comes about in many religions, many of the people in the western world possibly have much awareness of Christian eschatology. During the time the church was being established in its early days, it was taken to be obvious by many people in the Christian faith that “the Second Coming” and the world’s end were inevitable about to come.
However, the majority of the Christians dropped this kind of thought but then large numbers of these people once again embraced this kind of thought at varying times. BBC News Magazine quotes Stephen Hunt who is a sociologist of religion as saying “It isn’t just the lunatic fringe; it is an integral part of all Christianity. But in mainstream Christianity, it is put into perspective that it may happen one day”. Stephen goes further to point out that “but certain groups and movements believe that it is in their generation. They are saying we have got the truth and nobody else has” (Para 11).
Many groups are coming up to give a prediction of the end of the world. For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have predicted catastrophic scenarios that have noticeably not come to be seen, only stopping to predict the end of the world in recent times (Davidson 160). “Failed predictions seem not to have alienated core believers. Indeed, it is denied by some that specific predictions, as opposed to speculation based on scripture, have ever been made” (Rohrer 1)
An interview was held with a Florida State University Philosopher by the name of Michael Ruse by Greg Rose. In this interview when Ruse was asked to comment on Christianity eschatology, he points out that some people had it in mind that Jesus was going to come back at the end of the millennium to take his people. At this point, those people who have done good deeds are lucky and those who engaged in doing bad are not lucky. He points out that, as human beings, we should have awareness there is a need for preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ – ensure that we are pure morally and seek to help others in getting converted. No future is driven by human beings more than this and there is an impossibility in seeking to the world to rights and this is because of the original sin. Other people think that Jesus will appear after the millennium and therefore human beings carry the obligation to engage in preparing for the millennium to make the perfect world to be something real. It is not right for people to just sit around waiting and instead, they are supposed to stand up and make use of the talents that they were given by God to change things for the better after they have done this, eventually, Jesus will descend from heaven (Ross Para 7).
Looking at the Hinduism religion, there can be tracing of the origins of this religion to the civilization of “Indus Valley” back in the period between the year 40000 BCE and 2500BCE. The basis of this religion is the “belief in the unity of everything” even though many people have a belief that this is a polytheistic religion (“The major world religion”). The entirety is referred to as Brahman. The point of people being alive is to have an awareness that, as human beings, they are a portion of God, and through this awareness; the human being can leave this world and once again join with God. There can be the attainment of this enlightenment only in the case where a human being undergoes “cycles of birth, life, and death known as samsara” (“The major world religion” Para 1). The measurement of a person’s progress in the direction of enlightenment is carried out by the person’s karma. Karma is defined as “the accumulation of all one’s good and bad deeds and this determines the person’s next reincarnation” (“The major world religion” Para 1). Doing good and committing to God enables a person to be reborn at a privileged level. On the other hand, in the case where a person engages in evil deeds and carries with him or herself dirty thoughts, this will make the person be born once again at a level that is lower as a human being, or worse enough, this can cause the person to be born is an animal and no longer a human being again.
Milner [a] (298) points out that “virtually all interpreters of Hinduism agree that the notions of samsara, karma, and moksa are central to nearly all varieties of Hinduism”. It is generally agreed that the people who embrace this religion assume ongoing reincarnations or what is referred to as samsara. It is believed that the present incarnation of a person, as well as his or her experiences, are the product of the past actions the person engaged in or what is referred to as karma and there is a possibility for the person to be released or liberated (moksa) from the continual cycle (Wallis and Bruce 17).
Kinsley (8) points out “certain underlying beliefs are accepted by most Hindus: karma, samsara, and moksa, for example”. (Milner [b] 55) states “doctrines concerning samsara, karma, and moksa may be regarded as axiomatic by the most school of Hindu philosophy. According to Shah (22), at the beginning of the 6th century BCE, there had been general acceptance of the “the law of karma” and transmigration as being the fundamental facts of being and there was minimal challenging of these beginning from that period onwards by whatever large Indian school thought. Karma and samsara are beliefs that are held by almost the entire Indian community apart from other religions such as Christianity, Parsis, and Islam to the current day (Stark and William 118).
Milner [a] (299) points out that the term “eschatology brings in problems in its definition, especially about the Hinduism religion. Milner notes that the term eschatology is a word used to refer to the end times and therefore this term is not appropriate for such a religion as Hinduism since this religion “conceives of sacred time as cyclic rather than linear”. He further points out that this term is not sufficient enough to carry out a discussion of even the Christianity traditions for the reason that the term tends to have limitations and revolves around speculations that are made concerning the things to come at the end of the age.
The world’s major religions which include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism share the origins. Considering the Muslims, in the present day, there are more than one billion. Out of this, approximately a fifth of them is in the Middle East with the highest number being found in Indonesia. Considering those Muslims who live in the United States of America, there are around four million Muslims. Although this religion is the most recent to be set up as compared to other major religions, the people who embrace this religion (Muslims) do not consider the religion as being a young or new religion. They also believe in people who were there in the past such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus among other people.
In considering Christianity, this religion began as a section to become independent from Judaism, approximately twenty centuries ago. Jesus was not comfortable with the religious practices and faith that was embraced by the native Jewish among which he was born and following this, he commenced on delivering a message that was not similar to theirs about God and religion. In the course of the travels, Jesus obtained 12 followers (disciples) and traveled around with them, and engaged in teaching them. Christianity is closely related to Judaism and the two religions are very much similar in many ways regarding the main beliefs. However, there exist two basic differences between these religions. One of the differences is that those people who are of Christianity faith have a belief in the original sin and they have a strong belief that Jesus came to play a role of delivering people from that original sin through his death and resurrection
The Christianity religion, the Islam religion as well as the Baha’i faith, and Judaism trace their origins with a divine covenant which was formed between the God of the people of Israel and Abraham and this was around the year 2000 BCE. The leader who came thereafter (Moses) served as a leader who took the people of Israel from slavery out Egypt to lead them to the Promised Land
In Hinduism religion, there can be tracing of the origins of this religion to the civilization of “Indus Valley” back in the period between the year 40000 BCE and 2500BCE. The basis of this religion is the “belief in the unity of everything” even though many people have a belief that this is a polytheistic religion (“The major world religion”). The entirety is referred to as Brahman. The purpose of people being alive is to have an understanding that, as human beings, they are part of God, and through this understanding; the human being can leave this world and once again join with God.
Milner [a] (299) points out that the term “eschatology brings in problems in its definition, especially about the Hinduism religion. Milner notes that the term eschatology is a word used to refer to the end times and therefore this term is not appropriate for such a religion as Hinduism since this religion “conceives of sacred time as cyclic rather than linear”. However, such religions as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have come up with the way they look at eschatology. They have come up with a system of considering how the end of age events will be.
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