Hinduism And Islam: A Comparison Of Two Religions Essay, Research Paper
Hinduism and Islam: A Comparison of Two Religions
Throughout the world the one thing that binds people together is religion. Whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, or any of the other practice of faith that people adhere to, one thing remains clear; the vast majority of the human species has always looked to a higher power for guidance and enlightenment, love, acceptance and, at times, discipline. Even early humans who did not quite grasp the whole concept still believed that a power greater than themselves must be responsible for all that they saw around them.
Within these margins we will look at two bodies of faith that are as different as night and day on the surface, but when really studied, and an open mind for understanding is present, the similarities float to the top. The two faiths that will be examined are Hinduism and Islam. In order to make this comparison as precisely as possible and so that there are recognizable correlation’s between the two, the six points of dimensional reference that will be used are as follows: 1) Doctrinal-creeds, theologies, etc.; 2) Ethical-set of moral beliefs; 3) Experiential-divine experiences of the faithful; 4) Mythological-beliefs that are most usually relayed in the form of stories; 5) Rituals-behaviors done in the form of worship and imitation; 6) Institutional-any form in which religion is organized.
The Hindu doctrine is actually made up of two different texts. The first text is known as the Vedas, which means “knowledge” or “wisdom”. This is a collection of four writings composed between 1500 and 500 BC in which the basis of the Hindu belief system as well as their ideas on religion is expressed. The Vedas also describe numerous deities who are the personifications of natural occurrences such as rain, wind, fire, etc. It was the custom for prayers and sacrifices to be offered to these gods as a means by which to obtain blessings.
The second text, which is actually the latter sections of the Vedas, is known as the Upanishads. The Upanishads is considered to be inspired writings by the Hindu faithful and also plays a big part in the development of the Hindu concept of the divine. The Upanishads is where the Hindu religion strays from multiple gods and instead focuses on the Brahman. The Brahman is an ultimate reality beyond our comprehension and is impersonal in nature. The Upanishads also mention the Atman, which is best described as the core of one’s being as well as a more personal ultimate reality for the Hindu. A popular phrase to Hindus is “Atman is Brahman”.
The doctrinal beliefs for the follower of Islam can be found in the Koran. The Koran can be thought of as the Christian Bible or the Jewish Torah. The Koran is basically the end all reference guide for the person of the Islamic faith. Within the pages of the Koran one can find the Five Pillars of Faith as well as the central doctrines of faith known as the Five Articles of Faith.
The Five Pillars consist of the creed, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage. The creed is used to testify that “there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet”. This creed must be professed for one to both become and remain a follower of Islam. Prayer is done dutifully and respectfully five times daily while facing Mecca, the most holiest of cities in Islam. Almsgiving is required in the Islamic religion and as such followers give one fortieth of their income in the name of Allah. Fasting is observed during the month of Ramadan to pay tribute to the month that Mohammed performed his meditation. Finally, the pilgrimage to Mecca is a duty that all Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime if they have the means to do so.
For the ethical portion of Hinduism we once again turn to the Vedas and Upanishads. These two works give examples by which Hindus should live their lives. The Laws of Manu are the real governing portions of the Hindu religion, however. These laws were set forth initially to strengthen the caste system in India and to preserve the role of the Brahman as the pinnacle of the caste system. These laws also contain the guidelines for performing rituals and the observance of ceremonies. Originally said to contain 100,000 verses, today’s version consists of 2685 verses.
In the Islamic faith the Shariah is more than just a moral set of laws that the faithful must follow, it also doubles as the legal laws as well. For this reason it can sometimes be difficult to use these laws in the court system. In addition to the Shariah there are four sources of Islamic Law. These include the Sunna, the responsible personal opinion, the community consensus, and the Koran.
The experiential, or divine experiences of the faithful, aspect to Hinduism