Comparative study of major religion

(Alternative Paper in Lieu of the Compulsory Islamic Studies) 

I. Introduction 

▪ Definition(s) of religion 

▪ Emergence of the study of religion as a discipline  

▪ Theological and academic study of religion 

▪ An overview of religious landscape of the World 

II. Hinduism 

▪ Historical Background  

Indus valley civilization, Aryan invasion theory, Vedic Dharma, Brahmanism  ▪ Scriptures:  

Sruti: Vedas, Upanishads, Smirti: Manu Smirti, Sutras, Puranas, Great epics: Ramayana,  Mahabharata 

▪ Hindu Doctrines:  

Dharma, Vedanta, Karma, Transmigration of Souls, Moksha (Liberation)  

▪ Ways to Liberation:  

Karma marga (Works/Rituals), Jnana marga (Wisdom), Bhakti marga (Devotion)  ▪ Hindu gods:  

Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Trimurti, other gods and divinities 

▪ Major Hindu Sects:  

Vaishavism (Manifestation avatars), Saivism (Supreme God & Phallic worship), Saktism  (Goddess worship)  

▪ Hindu society: 

Caste System, Ashramas (Stages of life)  

▪ Hinduism in the Modern World  

19th century reform and revival movements, Contemporary Hindu Tendencies and  movements 

III. Buddhism 

▪ Historical Background  

Life of Gautama Buddha, Formation and spread of Buddhism, Rivalry between Brahmanism  and &Buddhism 

▪ Scriptures:  

Tripitaka: Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka 

▪ Teachings and Doctrines 

Three Jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, The four noble truths, Eight fold  Path 

▪ Buddhist Sects: 

Theravadas (Hinayana), Mahayana, other schools and sects 

▪ Buddhism in the Modern world

IV. Judaism 

▪ A brief history of Jews and Judaism: 

From Abraham to Moses, peace be upon them all, From Moses to the establishment of Jewish  rule, Destruction of Jerusalem and dispersion of Jews in the world,  

▪ Jewish Scriptures:  

Tanakh (The Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings), Mishnah and Talmud  

▪ Articles of faith and basic teachings:  

Ten Commandments, The thirteen principles of faith propounded by Moses Maimonides  (1138-1204) 

▪ Jewish holidays and festivals: 

Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), Pesach (Passover), Sukkot (Tabernacles) Purim ▪ Jewish Worship:  

Daily prayer, fasting, Sabbath  

▪ Jewish sects and movements 

Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism, Zionism, Kabbalah, Hasidism

V. Christianity 

▪ Historical background: 

Jewish background of Christianity, Life and of Jesus Christ (Through the Four Gospels), Life  and the role of Paul (Through the Letters of Paul), Formation and spread of the Christian  Church, Christianization of the Roman Empire, Reform movement  

▪ Scriptures: 

The Holy Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) 

▪ Basic Doctrines: 

Original Sin, Incarnation of God, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Atonement,  Trinity 

▪ Christian Sects: 

Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism  

Sub-denominations: Lutherans, Reformed and Presbyterians, Anglicans, Baptists,  Methodists, Unitarians 

▪ Christian Festivals and Holidays: 

Advent, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost 

▪ Christian worship and Sacraments 

Baptism, Eucharist, Communion, Lord’s Supper, prayer, fasting, psalms, music,  ▪ Christianity in the Modern Times  

Encounter with modernity, modern theological trends, Missionary movement, Dialogue and  relationship with other religions  

VI. Islam 

▪ Introduction and Historical Background 

Islamic concept of religion, universality of religion and diversity of shari‘ahs, Sirah (Life) of  the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, The era of rightly guided caliphs of Islam

▪ Sacred Scriptures: 

The Holy Quran, Hadith 

▪ Basic Doctrines and Creed: 

Tawhid (Oneness of God), Risalah (Belief in Prophets and finality of the prophet-hood with  the Prophet Muhammad), Akhirah (Belief in Hereafter and the final reckoning by Allah the  Almighty), Belief in angels, previous scriptures, predestination and human responsibility  before God, infallibility of the Quran 

▪ Five Pillars of Islam:  

Utterance of Shahadatayn (To proclaim the Oneness of Allah and that Prophet Muhammad  is his messenger, salah (five daily prayers), zakah (compulsory charity), sawm (fasting in the  month of Ramadan) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah who can afford travelling to it) 

▪ Other Teachings of Islam 

Equality of mankind, simplicity, spiritual purity and bodily hygiene, patience, contentment,  moderation, social justice, Jihad, tolerance towards other religions,  

▪ Sects and Schools 

Sunnis (mainstream Muslims), Shi‘ahs (Special devotion for Hazrat Ali and Family of the  Prophet), Khawarij (literalists), Mu‘tazilah (rationalists) 

▪ Contemporary Islamic movements and tendencies: 

Ikwan al Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood), Jama‘at-i-Islami, Tablighi Jama‘at, Salafi  movement, Fethullah Gulen movement in Turkey, Iranian revolution, extremist groups.   

SUGGESTED READINGS

S.No. Title Author
1. Approaches to the Study of Religion,  1999Peter Connolly (ed.)
2. The Penguin Hand Book of World’s  Living Religions, 2010. John R. Hinnells (ed.)
3. Dunya Kay Baray Mazahib (Major  Religions of the World) Imadul Hasan Azad Faruqi
4. Hinduism: A Short Introduction, 2006. Klaus K. Klostermaier
5. Exploring Buddhism, , 2012. Christmas Humphreys
6. Judaism: A Short Introduction, 1999. Lavinia and Dan Cohn Sherbok
7. Christianity: An Introduction, 2006. Alister E. McGrath
8. The Messenger: The Meanings of the  Life of Muhammad, 2008 Tariq Ramadan
9. Ideals and Realities of Islam, 1993. Seyyed Hossein Nasr
10. Towards Understanding Islam, 1992. Syed Abul ‘Ala Maududi

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