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How to study belief systems


How to study belief systems Dharmic Religions Natural order Hinduism Buddhism Thervada Mayayana Zen Janism Sikhism Abrahamic Religions From Abraham Christianity – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: How to study belief systems

How to study belief systems
  • Dharmic Religions
  • Natural order
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Thervada
  • Mayayana
  • Zen
  • Janism
  • Sikhism
  • Abrahamic Religions
  • From Abraham
  • Christianity
  • Catholic
  • Orthodox
  • Protestant
  • Islam
  • Sufi
  • Shiite
  • Sunni
  • Judaism
  • Orthodox
  • Confucianism
  • Daoism
  • Shintoism
  • Paganism
  • Animistic
  • Agnosticism

  • Latin for tie back or reconnect
  • Theo mono, poly or pan
  • Non-Theo mystic (no personal god)
  • Secular is indifferent to religions
  • Spirituality or Sacred

Religions More than just a belief
  • How do we define religion
  • How do we classify religions
  • What are their characteristics
  • How do they evolve
  • Cultural character
  • Shrines, stupas, cathedrals, Grottos, monasteries
  • What is their political/social appeal
  • How do they interact
  • How do they travel
  • Conflict
  • Syncreticism

  • Secular
  • Outside of religion
  • Asceticism
  • abstinence from worldly pleasures
  • Orthodox
  • Adhering to the accepted and traditional faith
  • Pious
  • Strictly adhering to the tenets of a religion
  • Tenets
  • teachings

Categorize them
  • Universal
  • adherents believe what they think is proper for
    ALL human kind
  • have a means of transmission
  • are not inextricably linked to a nation,
    ethnicity, or place
  • are dominant somewhere
  • Ethnic
  • Simple
  • Complex ethnicity and religion are joined such
    as Hinduism where you are born into the religion
    and it is your way of life
  • Syncretic
  • Blended together and forms a new religion
  • Exclusive vs.Non-exclusive
  • Im right and you are wrong vs. whatever you want
  • Islam, Christianity, Judaism vs. Hinduism,
  • Pantheon
  • Polytheistic many gods
  • Monotheistic one god
  • Dualistic pits equally evil gods against good
  • Schisms and divisions
  • Sects (Shiite vs. Sunni Catholic vs.
    ProtestantTherevada vs. Mahayana)

  • Universalizing
  • Islam
  • Christianity
  • Buddhism
  • Syncretic
  • Jainism
  • Hinduism Buddhism
  • Sikhism
  • Islam Hinduism
  • Neoconfucianism
  • Santeria (Lukumi, Regla de Ocha)
  • Vodoun (Voodoo)
  • Macumba (sometimes Quimbanda) and it's branches
    Umbanda and Candomble
  • Palo Mayombe
  • Ethnic
  • Hinduism
  • Shintoism
  • Judaism

Tenets or teachings
  • How are they collected
  • Books of learning
  • Books of Law
  • Who does the teaching and where
  • Role of Monks Monasteries
  • Actual foundation of the religion

How it spreads
  • Pilgrims
  • Trade routes
  • Geographic conduits/crossroads/ obstacles
  • Stages
  • Conversion or forced acceptance
  • Exclusive or dual acceptance
  • Proselytizing trying to convert someone to a
  • Mission (latin root is to send off) duty to
    conduct such as Hajj
  • Diaspora

The spread of universal religions from 300-1500 CE

Nature of Religion
  • Who are the leaders
  • What kind of background do they have
  • Degree of aggression
  • How are they organized
  • Hierarchy
  • Religious Institutions and bureaucracies
  • Connection with political authority

Sacred sites and ceremonies
  • Meetings/gatherings
  • What types of structures
  • How are they connected to these sites
  • Symbols of the religion

  • Secular vs. Sacred
  • Denomination
  • Sect
  • Cult
  • Orthodoxy
  • Correct thought
  • Heresy is violation of the correct thought
  • Pious or Piety is to adhere or adhering to the
    tenets and orthodoxy of your religion

Tolerance for other religions
  • Methods used to keep the true nature of their
  • Wars
  • Ethnic cleansing
  • Marriage
  • How do they convert others
  • Persecution

Social roles
  • Gender roles
  • Exclusion or inclusion of others

Dates, place and story of origin Prophet Messiah founder Places of worship Books of teaching and laws Basic teachings and beliefs Symbols
  • Gods as personification of nature
  • all living things have a spirit
  • Primal religion perceive and experience the
    cosmos as a sacred continuum in which nature is a
    ready and steady manifestation of spiritual

  • Continued in areas that had not been evangelized
    by Christianity and Islam
  • Shinto - Japanese spiritual presence or nature -
    worship of Kami (spirits)
  • (syncretic with Buddhism and some Confucanism)
    see on chart
  • Animism - worship of life forces
  • Totemism - identification of self with various
    animal symbols
  • Shamanism - belief in unseen spirit worlds
  • Druidic - based on Ancient Celtic practices
  • Wiccan - a creative force exists in the universe
  • Dreamtime - Aboriginies in Australia
  • Asatru - (Norse) Asatru- developed in Nordic
    countries and spread throughout northern Europe.
    Sweden had Asatru royality until around 1100.
    Re-established in the late 1800s. Corrupted by
    Nazi Party and continue use by Neo-Nazis.

African Diasporic (Afro-Caribbean Syncretic)
  • History/Founder
  • The origins of the Afro-caribbean sects (Known
    variously as Vodoun, Santeria/Lukumi, Candomble,
    Ifa, Palo Mayombe, etc.) are shrouded in the
    ancient past. Most were brought to the Americas
    by Yoruban slaves, (except for Palo, which is
    Bantu) who blended their tribal beliefs with
    Catholicism, spiritism, and even native belief.
  • Varieties of Yoruban descended religions are
    practiced in almost every country in the world.
    Most of the examples given in this guide conform
    mainly to Santeria/Lukumi beliefs, but there is a
    thread of commonality between all of them.
  • The most common of the syncretic faiths are
  • Santeria (Lukumi, Regla de Ocha)
  • Vodoun (Voodoo)
  • Macumba (sometimes Quimbanda) and it's branches
    Umbanda and Candomble
  • Palo Mayombe
  • Current leader/governing body
  • No central governing bodies.
  • Believers are largely autonomous, many consider
    themselves Catholic.

Basic tenets
  • The area where these faiths differ most from one
    another is in sexuality, race, and gender taboos
    and rank.
  • In Santeria, women are forbidden from becoming
    Babalawos, and are sometimes restricted from
    practicing sacrifice, while in Candomble, women
    hold the highest positions in the faith, and are
    much more likely than men to head congregations.
  • Homosexuality is also treated in very different
    ways- some sects of Palo, for example, prohibit
    homosexuals from membership, while most sects of
    Vodou are inclusive.
  • Race is most often an issue in Vodou, where it
    has often been controversial.
  • Many African sects will not initiate whites,
    while many Haitian and virtually all American
    sects are fully inclusive.
  • Church/temple
  • Varies, usually space is consecrated outdoors
    before a ritual.
  • Permanent temples or compounds, known as
    Peristyles in Vodoun, are also found in other
    branches- in Candomble, they are known as
  • Scripture
  • None, most traditions are oral, and passed from
    teacher to initiate. Western books of ritual
    magick such as Goetia, or the seven books of
    Moses, are indispensable in some sects.
  • Required observances, dietary restrictions
  • Vary widely. Restrictions on dress and food
    consumption are common during rituals and while
    preparing for initiations. Many gatherings
    prohibit immodest dress, or the wearing of
    certain colors.
  • For example, when one attends a terreiro, one
    must never wear red and black (unless, of course,
    one is attending an invocation of Exu).
  • Some traditions require ritual sexual abstinence
    before initiation and on particular days.
  • Basic teachings and Beliefs
  • Beliefs and practices vary widely from sect to
    sect and tend to be very complex, but all share
    some or all of the following traits
  • Syncretism or associations between traditional
    Yoruban or Bantu religion and Roman Catholicism,
    the practice of Animal sacrifice and trance
    possession, spirit mediumship, sympathetic magic,
    and elements of medieval Goetic magic and

  • Hinduism
  • Ayrans
  • Vedic Era
  • Vedas
  • Polytheistic
  • Altman
  • Soul
  • Moksha
  • Liberation (from the cycle of reincarnation)
  • Scriptures
  • Vedas
  • Upanishads
  • Ramayana
  • Mahabharata
  • Bhagavad Gita
  • Dharma
  • Artha
  • Worldly gain
  • Buddhism
  • Karma
  • Cause and effect
  • Dharma
  • Right behavior/true path
  • Therevada
  • Mahayana
  • Samsara
  • Suffering
  • Nirvana
  • Liberation
  • Bodhisattvvas
  • Humans who have reached Enlightenment and choose
    to stay in this world and not go to Nirvana
  • Eightfold Path
  • Zen
  • Lotus sitting and meditation
  • Temples of teaching and monks and monasteries in
    China, Korea, and Japan and less in South Asia
    and Southeast Asia

Wise men don't need to prove their pointmen who
need to prove their point aren't wise.The Master
has no possessions.The more he does for others,
the happier he is.The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.The Tao nourishes by not
forcing.By not dominating, the Master leads.
  • Lao zi
  • Daoism focuses on wu wei or non action
  • naturalness
  • (vitality and peace) keeps universe balanced,
  • Humanism
  • emptiness is seen as refinement
  • If work against this emptiness then you upset the
  • The body coordinates with the elements
  • Three Jewels - compassion, moderation and
    humility or kindness, simplicity and modesty
  • Dieties
  • Not really objects of worship
  • Jade Emperor
  • Three
  • Although historic roots appear around 6th century
    BCE or 4th to 3rd , it is officially recognized
    in the Tang Dynasty after the 7th Century CE.
  • IChing or Book of Changes or Tao Te Ching
  • Daozong or Treasury of Tao published during Ming

How do Universalizing and Ethnic Religions Differ?
  • Ethnic
  • Has meaning in particular place only.
  • Unknown source.
  • Content focused on place and landscape of origin.
  • Followers highly clustered.
  • Holidays based on local climate and agricultural
  • Universalizing
  • Appeal to people everywhere
  • Individual founder (prophet)
  • Message diffused widely (missionaries)
  • Followers distributed widely.
  • Holidays based on events in founders life.

  • UNIVERSALIZING RELIGION -- one that attempts to
    appeal to all people, not only those at one
  • adapt to almost any society
  • the religion itself sees no bounds to its
    eventual expansion over the entire landscape
  • Christianity, Islam, Buddhism
  •  ETHNIC RELIGION -- religion with a spatially
    (socially or ethnically) concentrated
    distribution principles of such a religion are
    likely to be based on physical characteristics of
    a particular location
  • stong territorial and cultural group
  • born into religion, religion and culture deeply
  • Judaism, Indian Hinduism, Japanese Shinto
  • Tribal or traditional religions
  • small size, localized culture groups
  • pre-modern societies
  • close ties to nature
  • animism, shamanism

Role of Religion
  • a symbol of group identity and a cultural
    rallying point (like language)
  • both transmitters and identifiers of culture.
  • can influence the spread of languages to new
    peoples and areas (Arabic, Latin)
  • varies in its cultural role (unlike language)
    dominating to unimportant
  • a value system that unites and differentiates
  • religious when involving worship and faith in the
    sacred and divine
  • may involve prescribed patterns of behavior
    prayer, special rites, obedience to doctrine

  • Not a simple thing
  • Being Religious - Pious
  • Adhering to the tenets and beliefs of ones
  • Having a Pantheon or being monotheistic
  • If monotheistic details of who/what single deity
    is and what that deity requires of humans

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Major Religions of the WorldRanked by Number of
  • Christianity 2 billion
  • Islam 1.3 billion
  • Hinduism 900 million
  • Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist 850
  • Buddhism 360 million
  • Chinese traditional religion 225 million
  • African Traditional Diasporic 95 million
  • Sikhism 23 million
  • Judaism 14 million
  • Jainism 4 million
  • Shinto 4 million

The Roots of Religion
  • Animism (Shamanism) - the belief that all
    objects, animals, and beings are animated or
    possess a spirit and a conscious life. Also
    called shamanism because of the prominence of a
  • Such beliefs are common among hunter-gatherers.
  • 10 of Africans follow such traditional ethnic
  • These beliefs are losing ground to Christianity
    and Islam throughout Africa.

Nigerian Shaman

  • Retained tribal ethnic religion of people around
    the world
  • Today, adherents number at least 100 million
  • Animists believe certain inanimate objects
    possess spirits or souls
  • Spirits live in rocks, rivers, mountain peaks,
    and heavenly bodies
  • Each tribe has its own characteristic form of
  • A Shaman tribal religious figure usually serves
    as the intermediary between people and the

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Spread of Religions
  • imposed by conquest
  • adopted by conversion
  • defended and preserved in the face of surrounding

Cultural and Biological Exchanges Along the Silk
  • The Spread of Buddhism and Hinduism

Insert map on page 257
Religion and Fall of Classical Dynasties
  • The Fall of the Han Dynasty
  • Cultural Change in Post-Han China
  • Sinicization of Nomadic People
  • attempt to be influenced and assimilated by the
    Chinese culture (Korea, Japan later)
  • Popularity of Buddhism
  • Cultural Change in the Late Roman Empire
  • Prominence of Christianity
  • Formation of Institutional Church
  • Emergence of Pope

POSTCLASSICAL ERA, 500 TO 1000 C.EArabic to Islam
Insert Chronology Chart on page 325
The Medinan Caliphate
  • The Problem of Succession
  • Abu Bakr (leader of prayers- companion and fourth
    convert) and Companions
  • Ali (cousin and adopted son of Muhammad, husband
    of Fatima, second convert) and Abbas (uncle of
    Ali and the Prophet)
  • The Medinan Caliphate (successor/representative)
  • Abu Bakr (r. 632-634)
  • Umar (Omar ibn al-Khattab) (r. 634-644)
  • Uthman (Ummayyad clan) (r. 644-656)
  • Ali (r. 656-661)
  • The Sunni-Shiite split

Dar al-Islam
  • The Expansion of Islam
  • The Early Caliphs and the Umayyad Dynasty

Insert map on page 310
States and Societies of Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Islamic Kingdoms and Empires
  • The Indian Ocean Trade and Islamic States in East

Insert map on page 436
India and the Indian Ocean Basin
  • Islamic and Hindu Kingdoms
  • The Quest for Centralized Imperial Rule

India and the Indian Ocean Basin
  • Islamic and Hindu Kingdoms
  • The Introduction of Islam to Northern Southern
  • The conquest of the Sind (711)
  • Merging of cultures
  • Sultanate of Delhi (1206)
  • The Chola Kingdom (850-1267)

India and the Indian Ocean Basin
  • The Influence of Indian Society in Southeast Asia
  • The Indianized States of Southeast Asia

Insert map on page 372
Hinduism, Buddhism and Janism
  • Dharmic religions

Common Elements
  • Liberation is the central goal of all three of
    the Dharmic religions
  • Wheel of Life

  • Of the regions most religiously active, India had
    by far the most activity.
  • While the Chinese philosophers focused more on
    how to live and left the hereafter for others to
    sketch in, the Indians covered both the seen and
    unseen worlds with their religious thought.
  • The times were prosperous, so that people could
    afford to turn their minds to otherworldly ideas.
  • None of these faiths form in response to
    something around them that is wrong but come
    into being out of contemplation, study, and
  • They speak of harmonious relationships, not
    struggles they have a tolerant, open message.
  • The Indian and Chinese ways are just that,
  • They can be lived alongside other ways, or they
    can stand alone.
  • No pressure.
  • They do not exclude or feel a need to convince.

  • By contrast, the Near Eastern and European
    religious movements arise out of seeing a wrong
    situation and wanting to correct it.
  • Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, and others
    like them preach a message at odds with their
    surroundings and contain within their teachings a
    call to prostelyzation.
  • They develop out of times presenting a stark
    contrast and have a message asking people to
    choose the right side.

Classical Hinduism
  • Focused on figuring out ways to break the
    continual cycle of rebirth, samsara
  • The particulars of an individuals wanderings in
    samsara are determined by karma
  • Brahman perfection, ultimate reality eternal
    life force only thing that really exists is
    in all things, and is all things, is above all
    things. All gods are manifestations (forms) of
  • Maya magical spella part of Brahman the
    world we experience is an illusion (see, hear,
    feel, taste, smell, joy, pain all maya)

Hindu Temples
  • Hinduism has splintered into diverse religious,
    some regarded as separate religions
  • Jainism ancient outgrowth, claiming perhaps 5
    million adherents
  • Traces its roots back over twenty-five centuries
  • Reject Hindu scriptures, rituals, and priesthood
  • Share Hindu belief in ahinisa and reincarnation
  • Adhere to a stern asceticism
  • Sikhism arose in the 1500s, in an attempt to
    unify Hinduism and Islam
  • Centered in the Punjab state of northwestern
  • Has about 19 million followers
  • Sikhs practice monotheism and have their own holy
    book, the Adi Granth

  • Derived from Hinduism began 25 centuries ago
  • Reform movement grounded in the teaching of
    Prince Siddhartha the Buddha
  • He promoted the four noble truths
  • Life is full of suffering
  • Desire is the cause of this suffering
  • Cessation of suffering comes with the quelling of
  • An eight-fold path of proper personal conduct
    and meditation permits the individual to overcome
  • Nirvana reached when one has achieved a state
    of escape and peace, which is attained by very few

  • Today the most widespread religion in Asia
  • Dominates a culture region from Sri Lanka to
    Japan and from Mongolia to Vietnam
  • Proselytic religion
  • Formed composite faiths as it fused with ethnic
    faiths especially in China and Japan
  • Fused with Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism
  • Southern Buddhism dominant in Sri Lanka and
    mainland Southeast Asia retains greatest
    similarity to original form
  • Special variation known as Lamaism prevails in
    Tibet and Mongolia

  • Theravada Buddhism
  • Mahayana Buddhism

Sects of Buddhism
  • Theravada
  • Traditionalreligious life is a solitary
    individual journey (monk)
  • Reaching Nirvana is simply ceasing to be
  • Focus on meditation and personal perfection
  • Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
  • Mahayana
  • China, Japan, Korea, Tibet
  • Belief in enlightened beings (bodhisattvas) who
    have perfected themselves to the point they are
    capable of leaving the cycle of death and rebirth
    because they have reached nirvana
  • Bodhisattvas remain in human form to help others
    reach nirvana (perfect contentment, release of
    attachments, and release from cycle of death

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The Buddha Image
The Buddha is the enlightened person, a role
model to emulate not a god to try to please or
Buddhist Temples
Temple in Bhutan
Wat or Temple in Thailand
Gelugpa Temple, Mongolia
Sacred space
  • Includes areas and sites recognized as worthy of
    devotion, loyalty, fear, or esteem
  • Notion occurs in many different cultures, past
    and present the world over
  • B.C. Lane saysan ordinary place made
    extraordinary through ritual
  • May be sought out by pilgrims or barred to
    members of other religions
  • Often contain the site of supposed supernatural
    events or viewed as abode of gods

Sacred Space
  • Jerusalem is sacred space to Christians, Jews,
    and Muslims. It contains the Via Dolorosa (Way
    of the Cross) leading to the site of Christs
  • According to Jewish tradition, the sealed Golden
    Gate (far right) is where the Messiah will enter
    the city and bring redemption. Ruins of the City
    of David are at the southwest corner of the wall.

Sacred space
  • Conflict can result of two religions venerate the
    same space
  • Example of conflict in Jerusalem
  • Muslim Dome of the Rock site of Muhammads
    ascent to heaven
  • Wailing Wall remnant of greatest Jewish temple
  • Cemeteries also generally regarded as type of
    sacred space

Religious pilgrimage
  • Pilgrimages can have an economic impact, as a
    form of tourism
  • In some favored localities, pilgrim trade
    provides the only significant source of revenue
  • Lourdes attracts between 4 and 5 million
    pilgrims each year
  • Many seek miraculous cures at its famous grotto
    where the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared
  • Ranks second only to Paris in number of hotel,
    and most are small
  • Mecca attracts hundreds of thousand of Muslims
  • Come from every corner of the Islamic culture
  • Closed to all non-Muslims

Religion and lifestyle
  • This man is a Hindu sadhu or holy man. He has
    elected to remove himself from ordinary society
    to seek moksha or release from the cycle of
    birth, death, and rebirth. A devotee of Shiva,
    he hopes to achieve this ultimate state of bliss
    through a lengthy process of devotion, ritual,
    meditation and several rebirths.

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  • Mosques differ widely in style yet their elements
    are constant. They include consecrated space for
    ritual prayer a mihrab, or wall-niche indicating
    the direction (qiblah) of Mecca and, to the
    right of the mihrab, a pulpit (minbar) for the
    Friday sermon.

Medina, Saudi Arabia
Religious structures
  • In Islam, mosques are normally the most imposing
    items in the landscape
  • Jewish synagogues vary greatly in visibility
  • Hinduism has produced large numbers of visually
    striking temples, but many worship in private

Taj Mahal
Landscapes of the dead
  • Christian cemeteries vary from modest, to places
    of color and elaborate decoration depending on
    the religious denomination
  • Cemeteries often preserve truly ancient cultural
  • Example of rural traditional cemeteries of the
    southern United States
  • Rose bushes planted atop the grave may derive
    from worship of an ancient, pre-Christian mother
    goddess of Mediterranean lands
  • Cedars planted on graves is an age-old pagan
    symbol of death and eternal life
  • Shell decoration derives from an animistic custom
    in West Africa

  • Expansion
  • Hierarchical
  • Contagion
  • Relocation

Religions of the Middle East Trace To A Common
Ancestor Abrahamic
The Semitic religious hearth
  • Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all arose among
    Semitic-speaking people
  • All three arose from the margins of the
    southwestern Asian deserts
  • Judaism, the oldest, originated about 4,000 years
    ago probably along the southern edge of the
    Fertile Crescent
  • Later, Judaism acquired dominion over lands
    between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River
    territorial base of modern Israel

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The Semitic religious hearth
  • About 2,000 years later, Christianity arose as a
    child of Judaism from this same area
  • Islam arose about seven centuries later in
    western Arabia, partly from Jewish and Christian
  • Religions spread by both relocation and expansion
  • Expansion diffusion can be divided into
    hierarchical and contagious subtypes
  • Hierarchical diffusion ideas are implanted at
    top of a society, leapfrogging across the map
    taking root in cities
  • Use of missionaries involves relocation diffusion

Jewish Temple
The Semitic religious hearth
  • Christianity spread through the Roman Empire
    using the existing splendid road system
  • Clearly reflected hierarchical expansion
  • Early congregations were established in cities
    and towns
  • Temporarily established a pattern of
    Christianized urban centers and pagan rural areas

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The Semitic religious hearth
  • Scattered urban clusters of early Christianity
    were created by relocation diffusion
  • Missionaries moved from town to town bearing news
    of the emerging faith
  • Missionaries often used the technique of
    converting kings or tribal leaders
  • Some expansion was militaristic reconquest of
    Iberia, invasion of Latin America
  • Christianity spread farther by contagious
    diffusion, also called contact conversion

Diffusion of Christianity
  • Tamils were brought to Malaya as indentured labor
    to work in mines and plantations during the
    colonial era. Many Hindu Tamils were of a low
    caste or even untouchables in India.
    Christianity, without proclaimed social
    divisions, was and remains attractive to
    downtrodden peoples.

The Semitic religious hearth
  • Islamic faith spread in a militaristic manner
  • Followed the command in the Koran
  • Arabs exploded westward across North Africa in a
    wave of religious and linguistic conquest
  • Turks, once converted, carried out similar
    Islamic conquests
  • Muslim missionaries followed trade routes
    eastward to implant Islam hierarchically in the
    Philippines, Indonesia, and interior China

Semitic religious hearth
  • Tropical Africa is the current major area of
    Islamic expansion
  • Diffusion successes in Sub-Saharan Africa and
    high birthrates in the older sphere of dominance
    has made Islam the worlds fastest-growing

The lndus-Ganges Hearth
  • Second great religious hearth lies on the plains
    fringing the northern edge of the Indian
  • Lowland, drained by the Ganges and Indus rivers
  • Gave birth to Hinduism and Buddhism

The lndus-Ganges Hearth
  • Hinduism is at least 4,000 years old
  • Originated in the Punjab, from where it diffused
    to dominate the subcontinent
  • Missionaries later carried the faith in its
    proselytic phase, to overseas areas
  • Most converted regions were subsequently lost

The lndus-Ganges Hearth
  • Buddhism began in the foothills bordering the
    Ganges Plain about 500 B.C.
  • For centuries remained confined to the Indian
  • Missionaries later carried it to other countries
    and regions
  • China between 100 B.C. and A.D. 200
  • Korea and Japan between A.D. 300 and 500
  • Southeast Asia between A.D. 400 and 600
  • Tibet A.D. 700
  • Mongolia A.D. 1500
  • Developed many regional forms and died out in its
    area of origin

Diffusion of Buddhism
  • Buddhism arrived with Asian migrants in the early
    19th century and has become increasingly
    important with each subsequent immigrant group.
  • This is the Fo Kuang Shan Hsi Lai Temple in
    Hacienda Heights, an emerging Asian Suburban area
    near Los Angeles.

  • Pilgrimages are journeys to especially sacred
    sites such as this monastery in the Himalaya
    mountains of Nepal such pilgrimages often result
    from a vow and allow laypeople to reach a higher
    spiritual status

Barriers and time-distance decay
  • Religious ideas weaken with distance from places
    of origin and time
  • Most religious barriers are permeable, but weaken
    and retard religious spread
  • Partial acceptance of Christianity by various
    Indian groups in Latin America and the western
    United States
  • Served as a camouflage under which many aspects
    of tribal religions survived
  • Permeable barriers are normally present in
    expansion diffusion

Barriers and time-distance decay
  • Most religions become modified by older local
    beliefs as they diffuse spatially
  • Absorbing barriers example of China
  • Christian missionaries to China expected to find
    fertile ground for conversion
  • Chinese had long settled the question of what is
    basic human nature
  • Believed humans were inherently good and evil
    desires represented merely a deviation from that

Barriers and time-distance decay
  • Evil desires could be shrugged off and people
    would return to the basic nature they shared with
  • Christian idea of original sin left the Chinese
  • Chinese could not understand the concept of
    humankind being flawed or their impossibility to
    return to godhood
  • Many concepts of Christianity fell on rocky soil
    in China
  • In the early twentieth century some Chinese
    became Christians in exchange for the rice
    missionaries gave them

Barriers and time-distance decay
  • Religion can act as a barrier to the spread of
    nonreligious innovations
  • Religious taboos can function as absorbing
  • Can prevent diffusion of foods and drinks
  • Mormons are forbidden to consume products
    containing caffeine
  • Some Pennsylvania Dutch churches prohibit
    cigarette smoking, but not the raising of tobacco
    by member farmers for commercial markets

Religion and economy
  • Religion can also often explain the absence of
    crops or domestic animals in an area
  • Spain and Morocco show the impact of food taboos
  • On the Spanish, Roman Catholic side pigs are
  • In Muslim Morocco only about 12,000 swine can be
    found in the entire country
  • Islamic avoidance of pork underlies this contrast
  • Judaism imposes restrictions against pork and
    other meats as stated in the Book of Leviticus

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Religion and economy
  • Other explanations for Islamic and Judaic pork
  • Concern with the danger of intestinal parasites
  • Considered pigs unclean
  • Unlikely relationship between poorly cooked pork
    and intestinal parasites would have been detected
    before modern medical technology
  • As some groups lost access to irrigation waters
    they became nomadic herders

diffusion of Buddhism along the Silk Route
  • trade partly prospered because of the elaborate
    rites introduced into the practice of Buddhism in
    Central Asia.
  • The Stupas (icons) were wrapped with reams of
    silk on festive occasions thereby giving impetus
    to the silk trade in China.
  • The interlocking dome of the Stupas was to be the
    prototype for the domes over Mosques and churches
    that were built later by Romans and Arabs
  • The Dome of the Mosques in Islamic architecture
    is derived from the stupas
  • The hemispherical construction of Byzantine such
    as Haja Sophia of Byzantine has domes which
    reseble the Buddhist Stupa

Relic Worships at Stupas
  • Relics are parts of the Buddhas body (hair,
    nails, bones, teeth, etc.) that have great power
    and can bless those who worship them
  • Stupas are Buddhist temples that house a relic of
    the Buddha

Asokas sponsorship of stupas
Schisms or divisions
Origin and Diffusion of Islam
Taj Mahal
  • tomb mosques
  • built by Shah Jahan
  • 5th Mughal Emperor
  • completed 1653

The Sacred Cow
  • Nearly 200 million cattle in India
  • Cow sacred and its slaughter forbidden
  • 15 of world total
  • Cows provide work, milk, ghee, dung, fertilizer
  • Hinduism forbids slaughter of cows
  • Goshalas old age homes for old cows

Lord Brahma creator, continually making new
Vishnu Protector/Preserver
the Caste System
  • 4 Social Castes (Varna, subdivided into 1000s of
    jati) outcastes
  • Brahmin (5 priestly academic)
  • Kshatriyas (20 rulers, military, warrior)
  • Vaishya (farmers, merchants, landlords)
  • Sudras (laborers artisans)
  • Untouchables (26 -- menial labor slaughtering,

Dalit Low-caste untouchables
  • 250 million out-castes
  • 1949 caste system outlawed
  • Oppression continues (rural areas)
  • no rights for owning land or home
  • no access to worship at the local temple
  • no right to walk on certain roads
  • segregated living
  • severely impoverished
  • suffer high levels of illiteracy
  • Since 1950s affirmative action

  • Symbols of the faith The Five K's Clothing
    practices of stricter Sikhs symbolize unity,
    truthfulness, faith, identity, justice
  • Kesa (long hair, never cut)
  • Kangah (comb)
  • Kacha (short pants)
  • Kara (metal bangle)
  • Kirpan (a ceremonial dagger)

The Geography of Religion
Ethnic Religions Polytheism Universalizing
Religions(proselytic) Monotheism
  • 2 billion adherents make it most practiced in
    the world.
  • Originated in Bethlehem (8-4 BC) and Jerusalem
    (AD 30) with Jesus Christ.
  • Spread by missionaries and the Roman Empire
    (Constantine A.D. 313).
  • It is the most practiced religion in Africa

Diffusion of Christianity

  • 1 billion adherents
  • Originated in Saudi Arabia (Mecca and Medina)
    around AD 600.
  • Spread originally by Muslim armies to N. Africa,
    and the Near East.
  • Sunni (83) - throughout the Muslim world.
  • Shiite - Iran (40), Pakistan (15), Iraq (10)

Holy Text Koran Prophet Muhammad
  • Five Pillars of Islam
  • There is one God and Muhammad is his messenger.
  • Prayer five times daily, facing Mecca.
  • The giving of alms(charity) to the poor.
  • Fasting during Ramadan for purification and
  • If body and income allow, a Muslim must make a
    pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca in his lifetime.
  • Islamic Calender
  • Begins in AD 622 when Muhammad was commanded to
    Mecca from Medina (Hijra).
  • Lunar calendar makes Ramadan move through the
    seasons (30 year cycle - 19 years with 354 days
    and 11 with 355).

Sacred Site of Islam
Diffusion of Islam

Islam is considered the fastest growing religion
in America. Only a small part of this growth is
from black Muslims and the Nation of Islam.
  • 300 million adherents primarily in China and
    S.E. Asia
  • Originated near modern Nepal around 530 BC by
    prince Siddhartha Guatama.
  • Spread originally in India and Sri Lanka by
    Magadhan Empire (250 BC).
  • Indian traders brought it to China in 1st
    century AD.
  • By 6th century it had lost its hold on India,
    but was now in Korea and Japan.

Four Noble Truths 1. All living beings must
endure suffering.2. Suffering, which is caused
by desires (for life), leads to reincarnation.3.
The goal of existence is an escape from suffering
and the endless cycle of reincarnation by means
of Nirvana.4. Nirvana is achieved by the
Eightfold Path, which includes rightness of
understanding, mindfulness, speech, action,
livelihood, effort, thought, and concentration.

Theravada - the older, more severe form which
requires the renouncing of all worldly goods and
desires. Mahayana - focuses on Buddhas teachings
and compassion.
Karma - your past bad or good actions determine
your progress toward Nirvana through
reincarnation. You are your own God.
  • 300 million adherents primarily in China and
    S.E. Asia
  • Originated near modern Nepal around 530 BC by
    prince Siddhartha Guatama.
  • Spread originally in India and Sri Lanka by
    Magadhan Empire (250 BC).
  • Indian traders brought it to China in 1st
    century AD.
  • By 6th century it had lost its hold on India,
    but was now in Korea and Japan.


  • 900 million adherents primarily in India
  • Hinduism is an ancient term for the complex and
    diverse set of religious beliefs practiced around
    the Indus River.
  • Reincarnation - endless cycles. Karma and Yoga.
  • Coastlines and river banks most sacred sites.
  • Vishnu and Shiva most common of hundreds of

Key Terms
  • Syncretism - the mixing of two or more religions
    that creates unique rituals, artwork, and
  • Examples include syncretism of Christianity and
    indigenous beliefs in the Americas, Africa, and
  • Caribbean Voodoo (Haiti, Louisiana)
  • Christianity in Indigenous Latin American

Voodoo Dolls, Haiti
Shrine, Bangalore, India
Syncretism - the mixing of two or more religions
that creates unique rituals, artwork, and beliefs.
Religious Conflict
  • The Big Question Can secular society exist
    alongside traditional and fundamentalist
    religious sects and states?
  • We are quick to notice fundamentalism abroad
    (i.e. Salman Rushdies death sentence by Shia
    clerics) and not so quick to recognize it at home
    (abortion clinic bombings Southern Baptist
    Conventions calls for women to submit to their
    husbands authority).
  • American evangelical Christianity and Islamic
    fundamentalism are the two most influential
    fundamentalist movements in the world.
  • Fewer and fewer states are governed by an
    official church.

Role of Religion
  • How does it function in the society
  • Who and what does it serve
  • Can it be spread
  • Does it promote the spread
  • How does it impact change and stability in the
    society and in the world
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