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What All Religions Have In Common

Updated on September 19, 2019
revmjm profile image

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Can you identify the symbols of the 12 major religions?
Can you identify the symbols of the 12 major religions?

I have taught Major World Religions in high school and in college. The one thing that students took away from the course is that all religions have some of the same things in common.

The average person might not know about all 12 of the major religions. However, people might know something about a few religions other than the one they belong to.

Religion: Definition

Religion can be defined as an organized system of beliefs by followers, ceremonies, practices, and worship that are centered around one supreme God, or deity.

Religion can also be described as man’s attempt to gain the highest possible good for himself by living his life the best way he can according to some spiritual guidance.

What All Religions Include
A system of beliefs
Practices
Ceremonies
Worship of one supreme being or deity
Attempt to achieve highest possible good
Recognizable symbols

12 Major World Religions

There are thousands of religions in the world but only twelve major ones. Those twelve are the ones that are often included in world religion surveys and studied in world religions classes.

The twelve major religions are listed in alphabetical order in the chart below along with what each religion has in common.

Most religions have the following things in common:

  • A supreme being to worship
  • Sacred texts for instructions
  • A golden rule to follow for instruction on how people should relate to others
  • A pilgrimage that may or may not be required by some religions

Symbols of the 12 Major Religions

What Religions Have in Common

Religion
Deity or Supreme Being
Sacred Writings
Golden Rule
Pilgrimage
Baha'i (5-7 million)
Monotheistic God
Writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh
Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.
Holy places in Iraq and Iran
Buddhism (520 million)
No supreme being, the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama is followed to reach nirvana
Tripitaka and The Sutras
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Bodh Gaya in India
Christianity (2,420 million)
God
The Bible
Do unto other as you would have them do unto you
The Holy Land
Confucism (6 million)
No supreme being but Confucius is honored.
Four Books
What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.
Mount Tai, a holy mountain in China
Hinduism (1,150 million)
Shiva
The Vedas
Treat others as you treat yourself
Sacred sites in India
Islam (1,800 million)
Allah
The Quran
That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind
Mecca
Jainism (4 million)
Arihant and Siddha
The Agamas
Treat all creatures the way you want to be treated.
Shatrunjaya in Gujarat
Judaism (17 million)
Monotheistic God
Tanach or the Jewish Bible
Love your neighbor as yourself:
Jerusalem
Shinto (100 million)
Kami
The Kojiki and the Nihon-gi
The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.
Three Grand Shrines in Japan
Sikhism (30 million)
Waheguru
Guru Granth Sahib
Treat others like precious jewels and do do hurt them.
Amritsar and Harmandir Saheb (the Golden Temple)
Taoism (Daoism) - (12-173 million)
No God like other religions
The Tao Te Ching and Lao-tzu
Regard your neighbor's gain and losses as your own.
Sacred mountains in China
Zoroastrianism (124-190 thousand)
Ahura and Mazda
Gathas and Yasna
Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.
The Iranshah Atash Behram

As you can see from the chart above, every religion has a golden rule that says basically the same thing even though it is not worded exactly alike. The Golden Rule in all religions encourages people to treat others as they would like to be treated. It is stated in a way that people should be treated in a fair and just manner.

Informal and Unorganized Religions

If you are wondering why there are only 12 major religions while there are hundreds of religions in the world, the answer is quite simple. A religion is considered major not because it is viewed as being more special than another. Instead, it is based on the number of current adherents in that particular religion.

The number of followers is based on census reports and population surveys that do change over the years. Because of the way questions are phrased on the surveys, it is difficult to get an accurate number of adherents, especially on informal and unorganized religions.

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      17 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Mary, you are so right. I like it that every religion has a Golden Rule that is similar. Every religion states how we are to treat others.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      17 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      We may have different practices but as long as we don't get stuck at the rituals but go at the depth of our beliefs, the commonality is there. I hope everyone sees this and lives this Golden Rule.

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