One of the distinguishing features of our civilization is the presence of a large number of religions and ethical systems. Mankind has always sought to understand the reasons for creation and his own place in the scheme of things.
Religion, according to the Oxford Dictionary means,
“belief in a superhuman controlling power especially in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship.”
Religions of the world can be broadly categorized into Semitic religions and non-Semitic religions. Non-Semitic religions can be divided into Aryan religions and non-Aryan religions.
Semitic religions are religions that originated among the Semites. According to the Bible, Prophet Noah (Peace be upon him) had a son called Shem. The descendants of Shem are known as Semites. Therefore, Semitic religions are the religions that originated among the Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, Phoenicians, etc. Major Semitic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions are Prophetic religions that believe in Divine Guidance sent through prophets of God.
The non-Semitic religions are further subdivided into Aryan and non-Aryan religions:
Aryan religions are the religions that originated among the Aryans, a powerful group of Indo-European speaking people that spread through Iran and Northern India in the first half of the second Millennium BC (2000 to 1500 BC).
The Aryan religions are further subdivided into Vedic and non-Vedic religions. The Vedic religion is given the misnomer of Hinduism or Brahminism. The non-Vedicreligions are Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. Almost all Aryan religions are non-Prophetic religions.
Zoroastrianism is an Aryan, non-Vedic religion, which is not associated with Hinduism. It claims to be a prophetic religion.
The non-Aryan religions have diverse origins. Confucianism and Taoism are of Chinese origin while Shintoism is of Japanese origin. Many of these non-Aryan religions do not have a concept of God. They are better referred to as ethical systems rather than as religions.
Now lets discuss some major religions with respect to their Gods.
Concept of God in Christianity
Christianity is a Semitic religion, which claims to have nearly two billion adherents all over the world. Christianity owes its name to Jesus Christ (peace be on him). Jesus (Peace be upon him) is also a revered figure in Islam. Islam is the only non- Christian Faith that prescribed faith in Jesus (Peace be upon him).
Jesus (Peace be upon him) never claimed divinity for himself. He clearly announced the nature of his mission. Jesus (Peace be upon him) was sent by God to confirm the previous Judaic law.
“My Father is Greater than I”(John 14:28)
“.. and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which has sent me.(The Bible, John 14:24)
Concept of God in Hinduism
The most popular among the Aryan religious in Hinduism, ‘hinhu’ is actually a Persian word which stands for the inhabitants of the region beyond the Indus Valley. However in common parlance Hinduism is a blanket term for an assortment of religious beliefs, most of whom are based on the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagwad Geeta.
Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed, most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in a multitude of gods. Some Hindus believe in the systems of three gods while Some Hindus actually believe in the existence of thirty-three crore i.e. 330 million gods. However learned Hindus who are well-versed with their scriptures insist that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God.
“He is One only without a second.”(Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1)
“O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. (Rigveda Book 8:1:1)
“There is no image of Him.” (Yajurved32:3)
Concept of God in Sikhism
Sikhism is a non-Semitic, Aryan, non – Vedic religion. Though not a major religion of the world, it is a branch or offshoot of Hinduism founded by Guru Nanak at the end of the 15th Century. It originated in the area of Pakistan and North West India called Punjab meaning the land of the five rivers. Guru Nanak was born in a Kshatriya (warrior caste) of a Hindu family but was strongly influenced by Islam and Muslims.
The word ‘Sikh’ is derived from the word ‘Sisya’ meaning disciple or follower. Sikhism is a religion of 10 Gurus, the First Guru being Guru Nanak and the 10th and the last being Guru Gobind Singh. The sacred book of Sikhism is Sri Guru Granth also called AdiGranth Sahib.
Concept of God in Judaism
Judaism is one of the major Semitic religions. Its followers are known as Jews and they believe in the prophetic mission of Prophet Moses (Peace be upon him).
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord, our God is one Lord” (The Bible, Deut 6:4)
“I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.” (The Bible, Isaiah 43: II)
Concept of God in Islam
Islam is a Semitic religion, which has more than 1.2 billion adherents all over the world. Islam means “submission to the will of Allah”. Muslims accept the Quran, as the word of God revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Islam states that Allah sent messengers and prophets throughout the ages with the message of the Oneness of God, and accountability in the Hereafter. Islam thus makes it an article of faith to believe in the earlier prophets, starting with Adam, and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob, Moses, David, John, Jesus and many others (may peace be on them all).
“Say: He is Allah, The one and Only.
“Allah, the Eternal, Absolute.“He begets not, nor is He begotten.
“And there is none like unto Him.”(Holy Quran 112:1-4)