Most people follow only a few customs and traditions of the religion that their parents and relatives practice. Thus, they then adopt the moral standards set to them by their particular religions. There are various religions in the world that have distinct teachings; some of them are Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. This essay seeks to establish the similarities and differences between these religions in terms of origin, issue of salvation and creation, and their perception of God.
Many people practice Hinduism and Buddhism, which are two interconnected religions the place of which origin is India. These religions have three beliefs in common; karma, Maya and dharma. Moreover, they both have some common religious practices, such as meditation and concentration. They also believe in detachments and renouncement of secular ways so as to get into the religious world. Even though they possess lots of similarities, they also have some differences.
For example, Buddhism was founded by Buddha, and Hinduism has no particular founder. Hindus believe in the existence of many gods and goddesses who are sculptured in human images, and each has a story pertaining to their role on earth. As a matter of fact, they conceive Buddha as a reincarnation of one of their Gods, Vishnu. Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches neither on the existence nor the absence of God or gods. Instead, it says that it is unavailing to look for one. Additionally, Hindus believe that the earth was created by God in the beginning whilst Buddhists say that the earth was created by man’s imagination and desire to reproduce (Juergensmeyer, 2003).
Compared with the abovementioned religious, Islam is the youngest one among them. Islam is based on the words of Allah, and Buddhism follows the words of Buddha, both religions consider their founders as supreme beings. They have the traditional basis of their practices. For example, Islam has five pillars, while Buddhists, on the other hand, have two main bases, namely, the Theravada and the Mahayana. However, these religions also considerably differ.
Unlike Buddhism where it is believed that the doings of an individual determine his/her redemption, Islam does not believe in redemption. Again, Islam regards Allah as God whereas Buddhists do not consider Buddha as God but rather a prophet whose teachings its adapts follow. Buddhists do not believe in the existence of God (Entessar, 1997).
Comparing Islam and Hinduism, it is worth noting that they also have some similarities as well as differences. One of the similarities is that these religions both state that God responds to prayers and is also a forgiver of sinful doings. There is something common in their prayers as people recite names, words, and deeds of God when praying and asking for mercy and purification. Also, both practice moral responsibility of every person for another; they talk about brotherhood, tolerance, and compassion.
Their differences include the fact that Hinduism observes and pray many gods and goddesses, while Muslims only believe in and worship one God, Allah. Then, in Islam, God is incomparable to any human, and thus, there cannot be any image representation of Him. This is quite contrary to the Hindus who worship several divinities each with a certain image representation (Entessar, 1997)
Another religion in focus is Judaism. Just like other religions, Judaism has its beliefs pertaining to God and follows some particular teachings which in some ways are similar and distinct to other religions. First, Judaism and Buddhism are similar in that they both do not believe in life after death. Their difference is that unlike Jews, Buddhists do not have a God, but a prophet and not one single holy book, but several.
On the other hand, Judaism and Islam are similar in many ways, one of which is the fact that they have common origins, thus their adapts believe that they are the descendants of Abraham. They also worship the same God and consider Jerusalem as their holy city. Some differences include the fact that the Islamic holy book is written in Arabic while that of the Jews is written in Hebrew, and they both consist some specific points favoring their nation (Entessar, 1997).
Judaism and Hinduism are very ancient religions with their own sacred writings, Vedas and Tanah for the Hindus and the Jews respectively. Judaism was founded by a revelation; therefore, it has no single founder just like Hinduism. Their differences include that Hinduism originated from India whereas the place of Judaism’s origin can be traced to Israel. Also, they both practice the caste system; there exist Priestly and Warrior Classes and Levites, Kohens, Yehuda, Benyamin and Yisrael tribes for the Hindus and the Jews respectively (Juergensmeyer, 2003).
The differences seen between the religions may be caused by the differences rooted in cultures of the people practicing them, their perception of God, and also the time when the religion was founded.
It can be concluded that Islam and Judaism are monotheistic religions and closely similar to each other than to Hinduism or Buddhism. Hinduism, on the other hand, is polytheistic religion and has more common with Buddhism as they both originate from India. Buddhism is a philosophical religion, and most of its special teachings and social patterns touch on the human way of life.
Generally speaking, all these religions are unique in their beliefs and teachings though, in the end, they intend to shape and guide human behavior. Studying various religions is important as it helps one be aware of their similarities and distinctions and not judge their adapts jumping too hurriedly into conclusions, but try to understand them.
Entessar, N. (1997). Islam, Muslims, and American Pluralism.
Juergensmeyer, M. (2003). Global Religions: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.