What is Religion?

Religion is a set of common beliefs and practices pertaining to the supernatural (and its relationship to humanity and the cosmos), which are often codified into prayer, ritual, scriptures, and religious law. These beliefs and practices are typically defined in light of a shared canonical vocabulary of venerable traditions, writings, history, and mythology.

Main article: Outline of religion

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Seeking the truth, religion


Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things.

The world’s principal religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups, although this is by no means a uniform practice. This theory began in the 18th century with the goal of recognizing the relative levels of civility in societies.

There are different ways of categorization of world religions.

 Relatively crude geographical schemes that distinguish Western Religions from Eastern Religions are quite common.

 Religions can be categorized by how many deities they worship. Monotheistic religions accept only one deity (predominantly referred to as God), polytheistic religions accept multiple deities. Henotheistic religions accept one supreme deity without denying other deities, considering them as aspects of the same divine principle; and nontheistic religions deny any supreme eternal creator deity but accept a pantheon of deities which live, die and may be reborn like any other being.

 Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths.

 Religious traditions fall into super-groups in comparative religion, arranged by historical origin and mutual influence.

  1. Middle Eastern religions originated in the Middle East; namely Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and Iranic religions (Zoroastrianism, Yazdanism and historical traditions of Gnosticism, Mandaeism, Manichaeism). religions and traditions related to, and descended from them (Bábísm and the Bahá’í Faith).
  2. Indian religions originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely HinduismJainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, and religions and traditions related to, and descended from them. Also called Dharmic religions that have idea of Dharma.
  3. East Asian religions originated in East Asia, also known as Taoic religions; namely Taoism, ConfucianismChinese folk religion, Shintoism, Cheondoism, Caodaism, and East Asian Buddhism, and religions and traditions related to, and descended from them.
  4. Indigenous tribal religions, formerly found on every continent, but now marginalized by the major organized faiths. Despite this, they often persist as undercurrents of Ethnic religionFolk religionPaganism, AnimismTotemism, and Shamanism. This category includes African traditional religions, African diasporic religions, Asian Shamanism, Native American religions, Mesoamerican Religion, Aztec Religion, Inuit Religion, Austronesian and Australian Aboriginal traditions and arguably Chinese folk religion (overlaps with Far Eastern religions).
  5. New religious movements, a heterogeneous group of religious faiths emerging since the nineteenth century, often syncretizing, re-interpreting or reviving aspects of older traditions (Wicca, New Age, Neopaganism, Hellenism, Hindu derived religions, Entheogenic religions, transcendentalism, polytheistic reconstructionism, and Satanism), some inspired by science-fiction (UFO religions, Scientology, Cult). Irreligion and New Thought.
  6. Historical religions of the ancient world shared many of the same patterns with each other even though the cultures may never have had any contact with each other. Such as Prehistoric religionAncient Egyptian ReligionAncient Mesopotamian religion, Brahmanism, Religion in pre-Islamic ArabiaInca mythology, ancient Greece and Rome and their Hellenistic descendants.

Atheism refers in its broadest sense to a denial of theism (the belief in the existence of a single deity or deities). Atheism has many shades and types. Some atheists strongly deny the existence of God (or any form of deity) and attack theistic claims.

Religious studies

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Main article: Religious studies

Religious concepts

Religious belief

  • Acosmism
  • Angel
    • Demon
      • Demonology
      • List of theological demons
  • Animism
  • Doctrine
  • Eschatology
  • Esotericism
  • Faith
  • Free will
  • Gnosticism
  • Goodness and evil
  • Holy Land
  • Humanism
  • Ietsism
  • Karma
  • Religion and LGBT people
  • Life after death
  • Mysticism
  • Mythology
  • Prophet
  • Reincarnation
  • Religious cosmology
    • Creation myth
  • Religious naturalism
  • Shamanism
  • Sin
  • Soul
  • Spirituality
    • List of spirituality-related topics
  • Supernaturalism
  • Tao
  • Theology
    • Agnosticism
    • Antitheism
    • Atheism
    • Deism
    • Deity
      • List of deities
    • Dualism
    • God
    • Henotheism
    • Immanence
    • Monism
    • Monolatrism
    • Monotheism
    • Nondualism
    • Nontheistic religions
    • Pandeism
    • Panentheism
    • Pantheism
    • Polytheism
    • Post-theism
    • Theism
  • Transcendence

Approaches to the beliefs of others

  • Exclusivism
  • Inclusivism

Religious behaviour and experiences

  • Meditation
  • Memes in religion
  • Nonviolence
  • Pilgrimage
  • Places of worship
  • Prayer
  • Religious experience
  • Religious war
  • Ritual
Parchment Paper Churches Dome Believe Religion


Religion-specific topics

African traditional and diasporic topics

Main articles: African traditional religion and Afro-American religion

Ayyavazhi topics

  • Ayyavazhi scriptures
  • History of Ayyavazhi
  • List of Ayyavazhi-related topics

Bahá’í Faith topics

  • `Abdu’l-Bahá
  • The Báb
  • Bahá’í history
  • Bahá’í teachings
  • Bahá’u’lláh

Buddhism topics

  • Attainment
    • Arahant
    • Bodhisattva
    • Buddha
  • Basic concepts
    • Four Noble Truths
    • Five Aggregates
    • Three marks of existence
    • Dependent Origination
    • Karma
    • Rebirth
    • Saṃsāra
    • Nirvana
    • Noble Eightfold Path
  • Branches of Buddhism
    • Theravada
    • Mahayana
    • Vajrayana
  • Buddhism by country
  • Buddhist monasticism
    • Monk
    • Nun
  • Buddhist philosophy
  • Buddhist texts
    • Mahayana sutras
    • Pāli Canon
  • Cultural elements of Buddhism
  • Gautama Buddha
  • Glossary of Buddhism
  • History of Buddhism
  • Index of Buddhism-related articles
  • List of Buddhists
  • Practice
    • Meditation
    • Morality
    • Wisdom
  • Three Jewels
    • Buddha (the Teacher)
    • Dhamma (the Teaching)
    • Sangha (the Community)

Cao Dai topics

  • Cao Dai

Christianity topics

  • Christianity by country
  • Eastern Christianity
  • History of Christianity
  • List of Christian denominations
  • List of Jesus-related articles
  • List of Latter Day Saint movement topics
  • Roman Catholicism
    • List of popes
    • List of saints
    • Roman Catholicism by country
  • Protestantism
    • Protestantism by country
  • Religious texts
    • Bible
      • Antilegomena
      • Deuterocanonical books
      • Gospels
      • Epistles
      • New Testament
      • Old Testament
  • Timeline of Christian missions

Hinduism topics

  • Hindu denominations
  • History of Hinduism
  • List of Hinduism-related articles

Islam topics

  • Allah
    • Ninety-nine names of Allah
  • Glossary of Islam
  • Hajj
  • History of Islam
  • Index of Islamic and Muslim related articles
  • Islam by country
  • Islamic schools and branches
    • Ahmadiyya
    • Sunni
    • Shia
    • Sufi
  • Muhammad
  • Religious texts
    • Hadith
      • Hadith collections
        • Nahj al-Balagha
        • Sahih Bukhari
      • Hadith Qudsi
      • Isnad – Ilm ar-rijal – Narrators of hadith
      • Matn
    • List of Islamic texts
    • Quran – Sura – Ayat
      • Asbab al-nuzul
      • Naskh
      • Quranic literalism
      • Tafsir Qudsi – tafsir
  • Salat
  • Zakat

Jainism topics

  • History of Jainism

Judaism topics

  • Israel
  • Jew
  • Jewish
  • Jewish religious movements
  • Judaism by country
  • List of Jewish history topics
  • Origins of Judaism

Modern Paganism topics

  • Asatru
  • Kemetism
  • List of Modern pagan movements
  • Neoshamanism
  • Wicca
  • Witchcraft

New Age topics

  • List of New Age topics

New religious movement topics

  • List of new religious movements

Open source religion topics

Rasta topics

  • Mansions of Rastafari

Satanism topics

  • LaVeyan Satanism
  • Theistic Satanism
    • Black mass
    • Conjuration
    • Deal with the Devil
    • Demonolatry

Shintō topics

  • Shinto sects and schools

Sikhism topics

  • History of Sikhism
  • Sikh gurus
  • Sikh scriptures
    • Bani – Gurbani
    • Chaupai
    • Dasam Granth
    • Guru Granth Sahib
    • Jaap Sahib
    • Japji Sahib
    • Mul Mantra
    • Sukhmani Sahib

Spiritism topics

  • History of Spiritism

Tenrikyo topics

  • Joyous Life
  • Ofudesaki
  • Osashizu
  • Oyasama
  • Tenri-O-no-Mikoto

Unitarian Universalism topics

Zoroastrianism topics

Irreligion topics

  • Agnosticism
  • Anarchism and animal rights
  • Antireligion
  • Atheism
  • Freethought
  • Ignosticism
  • Metaphysical realism
  • Metaphysical naturalism
  • Nontheism
  • Pessimism
  • Religious skepticism
  • Secular humanism


Main article: List of religious populations

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