By Ayesha Bashir
We all need that ‘supernatural’ backing behind us, in order to make sure we remain good human beings. So it’s the fear of going to hell, that stops you from doing wrong and believe it or not, it’s the greed of heaven that you might be giving alms or doing charity, exceptions are everywhere though :p
However there are not just 5 or 6 religions that are there mate; a number of other gates to heaven and to ‘God’ exist.
Now you can go nuts arguing about which one is the real one. Any how, dig deeper.
One of the youngest of world religions, it was founded by Baha’u’llah in Iran in 1863 when it was largely a Muslim country and this faith was proclaimed by a young Iranian who called himself The Bab.
Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah is the most recent manifestation of God; however they accept all religions as having true and valid origins (that’s contradictory on so many levels). They believe in oneness of all human kind, equality between women and men and harmony of science and religion (really now?).
The Baha’i community is about 5 million strong worldwide and is represented by 2112 indigenous tribes, races and ethnic groups all over, bet you didn’t know that. They have 9 holy days in the year which commemorate important events from the life of Bab.
This religion is based on African beliefs which is particularly popular in Brazil, and has about 2 million followers.
It is a mixture of Yoruba, Fon and Bantu beliefs which come from different regions in Africa. Enslaved Africans brought their beliefs with them when they were shipped to Brazil during slave trade.
The name Candomblé means ‘dance in honour of God’ and it’s an oral tradition without any holy scriptures. They believe in a supreme creator called Oldumare, who has lesser deities called Orishas and each practitioner has her/his personal Orisha for guidance.
Music and dance are very important to them, since dance enables them to be possessed with their orisha (that’s….interesting, I guess).
Jehova’swintnesses are members of a Christian based religious movement best known for their door-to-door evangelistic work and distributing works like Watchtower and Awake!
It was founded in USA by the end of 19th century under the leadership of Charles TazeRussel and the headquarters of the movement is in New York.
They base their beliefs only on the text of the Bible and ignore human speculations or religious creeds.
For them Bible is the Word of God and its 66 books are divinely inspired and historically accurate (a lot of other religions may have a problem with this though).
Members reject the sinful values of the secular world considering it to be under the influence of Satan and maintain a degree of separation from non-believers- They are “in the world” but not “of the world”.
The religion’s position regarding refusal to serve the military or salute the national flag has invited a lot criticism (No wonder it’s not practiced in India).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded in 19h century America. It was founded by Joseph Smith. It is centred on Christ but has substantial differences in the belief to the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christian Churches.
They believe that their church is the actual restoration of the church as conceived by Jesus and that all others have gone astray (don’t they all think like that?)
It was then developed by Bringham Young who migrated with the New Mormons to the Salt Lake City in 1847.
Very interestingly, they believe that God has a physical body, is married, and can have children. They also believe that humans can become gods in afterlife (get on with it you guys!).
Mormons are strongly focussed on traditional family life and values. They oppose abortion, homosexuality, unmarried sexual acts, pornography (ouch!), gambling, tobacco, consuming alcohol, use of drugs, tea and coffee..WHAAAA???
Rastafari is a young, Africa-centred religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie 1 as the King of Ethiopia in 1930.
Rastafarians believe that Haile is God and that he will return to African members of the black community who are living in exile as a result of colonisation and slave trade.
Followers of Rastafari are known by various names: Rastafarians, Rastas, Locksmen, dreads or Dreadlocks.
The Rastafari way of life encompasses the spiritual use of cannabis (I hear conversions) and rejection of materialism, oppression and sensual pleasures, also, the wearing of dreadlocks is closely associated with the movement.
By 1997, there were one million Rastafari worldwide but y 2011 more than 29,000 people identified themselves as Rastafari.
Fun fact- Bob Marley is a Rastafarian and no not everyone with dreadlocks is a Rasta.
Taoism is an ancient tradition of philosophy and religious belief that is deeply rooted in Chinese customs and worldview. It is also referred to as Daoism.
Taoism is about Tao, usually translates as the Way but hard to say what it actually translates for. The Tao is the ultimate creative principle of the universe. All things are connected and unified in the Tao.
It is a religion of unity and opposites; Yin and Yang. The principles of Yin-Yang sees the world as filled with complimentary forces- action and non-action, light and dark, hot and cold and so on.
There are 20 million Taoists worldwide, mainly in China, Taiwan or South East Asia. It is becoming increasingly influential in the West (and soon they’ll start calling this also their own) especially in the field of medicine and martial arts like Tai Chi.
So what’s your cup of tea?