World Religions other than Christianity
This material has been developed to assist teachers and pupils. Six of the main world religions other than Christianity are represented within this section.
The following dating system has been used:
- BCE - Before the Common Era;
- CE - Common Era.
It is also important for teachers to be aware that within each World Religion there is a diversity of belief and practice that cannot be discussed fully in the introductions provided here. A number of website resources have been provided to give further information.
The resources collated include web-sites, text books and CD roms that give information on a number of world religions. A short commentary is given on all of the resources with information on their usefulness for teachers and pupils.
Copyright for the information in the religions section of this web site belongs to Mr. Norman Richardson
The Bahá’í Faith was founded in Persia (modern day Iran) in the middle of the 19th century. It is therefore one of the youngest of the world’s religions, but it has spread widely and now has over 5 million followers right across the world.
Many people at first believed the Bahá’í Faith to be just a sect of Islam, but over the years it has established its independence. In some places, however, notably Iran, there has been considerable tension between Bahá’ís and Muslims. Because it is a relatively young religious movement there was uncertainty among scholars as to how to regard the faith, but now it has begun to be acknowledged as a significant world religion.
Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama in India in the 6th century BCE. He became known as the Buddha – the enlightened one. Around the world there are now over 300 million Buddhists, especially in countries to the east of India but also in a number of Western countries. There are several different Buddhist traditions, or “schools”.
Hinduism is the world’s oldest living religion, originating in the Indian sub-continent about 5,000 years ago. There are around 800 million Hindus worldwide, and it is the most numerically dominant religion in modern India.
There was no single founder of the Hindu traditions, which are believed to have come to India through the arrival of the Aryans, from the west, around 1700-1500 BCE, though some dispute this and point to earlier traditions native to the Indus Valley. The oldest of the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, were written in the period between 1500 and 500 BCE, known as the Vedic Period.
Islam is one of the world’s largest and most widespread religions, with approximately 1.25 billion followers. It grew from the Arabian peninsula in the early 7th century CE and quickly spread into Africa, Asia and Europe. Muslims today can be found in many countries and many cultures, speaking many languages.
Judaism is one of the oldest of the world’s living religions, although it is numerically quite small, with about 15-18 million Jews worldwide. About one third of the world’s Jews live in Israel and others are scattered over many other countries.
The most familiar Jewish symbols are the menorah – the 7-branched candlestick found in synagogues and sometimes in homes – and the Star of David (Magen David), which also appears on the flag of Israel.
The Sikh religion originated in the North West Indian region of Punjab in the 15th century CE. The religion was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1538), who travelled widely teaching that all are equal before God and of the importance of brotherly love. Sikh means a pupil or disciple.
The Sikh movement was originally designed to seek unity between the best of Hinduism and of Islam but it actually evolved as a distinctive religion and culture.