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All Religions are Not the Same: Differences Between Major Religions

Updated on December 20, 2017
Patrick Patrick profile image

Patrick has been working as a freelance writer for the past 3 years

Introduction


Essentially, the six major religions we have today can be grouped in to three main groups namely, the Abrahamic religions, Daoic religions and the Dharmic religions. Whereas the Dharmic religions include Hinduism and Buddhism, the Daoic religions include Daoism and Islam while the Abrahamic religions include Judaism and Christianity. From a general point of view, I can understand why some people would simply assume or imply that all the religions are the same given that they share a number of features such as a shared community within the respective religions, a sense of the sacred nature of various aspects of the religions, rituals as well as mythology of these religions among others. However, on taking a closer look at each of these religions; it becomes evident that they all have unique features that make them different from each other. Here, I will discuss some of the unique feature of each of the six religions and show why it is a fallacy to argue that all these religions are the same.

Major religions

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Six world religions include:

Judaism

Christianity

Daoism

Islam

Hinduism

Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism


One unique feature of Hinduism is with regards to "Karma". You may have heard of the word being thrown out quite often in social media and public sphere, but it is essentially described as the law of cause-and-effect. In Hinduism, this law is said to determine one's reincarnation where various positive or beneficial effects are associated with similar past actions and vice-versa. While Buddhism also has the concept of re-incarnation (re-birth for Buddhists) it is worth noting that this religion does not base this on such ideas as permanence and eternity of the soul as Buddhists do. Moreover, Buddhism does not believe that re-birth is associated with the former actions in one's life (Karma in Hinduism).

Buddhism also has its unique aspects. Unlike the other religions, this Dharmic religion is non-theistic, which simply means that the religion does not place belief in a Supreme God as is the case with Judaism, Islam or Christianity, all of whom place their belief in God. Buddhism is aimed at enlightenment and reaching Nirvana and starts with the Four Noble Truths that include the Truth of Suffering, Truth of the Cause of Suffering, Truth of the End of Suffering as well as the Truth of the Path that leads to the End of Suffering. Emphasis is placed on personal practices (such as meditation to clear the mind, having righteous intentions etc) all of which are aimed at reaching enlightenment or attain Nirvana. This is only unique to Buddhism. It is also important that you do not confuse “Buddha” as being a “God” given that he is not worshiped as such. Rather, he is the enlightened one and all Buddhists seek to reach such enlightenment and become Buddhists themselves.

Buddhism and Hinduism

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Judaism


For Judaism, an Abrahamic Religion, some of the unique features include monotheism, a covenant between God and his people through Abraham (the first Jew and father of Judaism) as well as the Torah. In Judaism, there is only one God who has no equal. It is this Supreme God that made a covenant with the Jewish people through their father Abraham and the Tora are His Words or a sign of the covenant. This distinguishes Judaism from other Abrahamic religions like Christianity that believes in the Holy trinity and Islam that uses the Quran as their Bible. By considering the unique features of Judaism compared to the other Abrahamic religions, you can clearly see that it is different and adheres to strict beliefs that make it unique.

Judaism

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Judaism, Islam and Christianity

While there are similarities between Judaism and Islam, both of which are Abrahamic Religions, there are various unique features of Islam compared to Judaism. While it is true that Islam also holds that there is only one God (Allah) who has no equal (As Judaism does) Islam holds that the Quran is the word of God as received as recited by Mohammad, his servant and the founder of Islam. Therefore, God established a relationship with the Muslim through the prophet Muhammad "Not Abraham" and gave his words through the Quran "not the Tora". On the other hand, Islam emphasizes on Five Pillars of faith that one is expected to keep if they are to be good Muslims. These include faith, prayer, charity, fasting and Pilgrimage to Mecca. While other religions do hold four of these pillars to be important (prayer, charity, fasting and faith) they do not place emphasis on Pilgrimage to Mecca. Here, it becomes possible to see the difference between Islam and the other religions that you claim to be similar to it.
As for Christianity, some of the most unique features you may be familiar with include Jesus Christ and the Trinity. For Christians, Jesus, the founder of Christianity was not only a man who walked on earth, but also part of the Trinity "therefore also God" including the Holy Spirit. You will not find this belief in any other of the six major religions. For Christians, Jesus Christi is very important in that He provides salvation and is the way to Heaven. This greatly sets Christianity apart from the other Abrahamic religions given that they reject the idea that Jesus is also God (in the trinity). Whereas Judaism holds that Jesus was not the awaited Messiah, Islam view Jesus as one of the many prophets like the ones listed in the Jewish religion.

Islam and Christianity

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Daoism

Lastly, Daoism, which is particularly practiced in China, is unique based on the fact that it emphasizes on the concept of Dao, balance and harmony. Here, it is important to notice that the mysterious concept of Dao is simply a universal principle that underlies everything in existence and not a belief in a "God". Therefore, the idea of God does not materialize in this religion. For this reason, Daoism holds that there is a universal flow of life force in all spheres of life as things take their natural course.


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