What do most world religions have in common?    

Expert Answers info

drhtwice eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write4 answers

starTop subject is Science

Something that the five major world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam) have in common is a sense of community. A sense of community provides group cohesion and identity, as well as a way for rituals and traditions to be passed down from generation to generation. For Christians, this community most often centers around a church. For members of the Jewish faith, the synagogue and yeshiva (Jewish school for the study of the Talmud and Torah) serve as focal points for the community. The sangha, which refers to a monastic community of monks or nuns and the lay community that supports them, is the central cohesive force in Buddhism. For Hindus, communities can form among devotees of a specific guru or deity, or among those who attend a specific shrine or temple. In Islam, a community can form within a local mosque or among followers of a particular imam. In addition, all Muslims consider themselves to be part of the worldwide community of Islam which is referred to as the ummah.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The practice of a religion is clearly one way of directing one's life with its structure and theological or other principles which govern behavior.  Usually, there is a being superior to mere humans that religions recognize.  However,  there is a sharp division in beliefs among some religions that politicians and others would make murky.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

larrygates eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,856 answers

starTop subjects are History, Law and Politics, and Social Sciences

Thomas Hobbes once commented that people explain that which they cannot explain in terms of "God." Most world religions deal with how its practicioners understand the world around them, how they got here, and where they are going. There is strong evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead with ceremony, thus indicating some belief in life after death. All world religions understand some sort of force or deity that influences life. It may not be well denominated as in the case of Buddhism; yet there is always the belief that there is some being which created the world and life and influences it to some extent. If this were not so, there would be no need for religion.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

I would argue that the main thing that most religions have in common is a set of ethical beliefs.  I am not saying that all religions share the same set of ethics, but I am saying that most religions have some set of ethics and that they believe those ethics are mandated by some supernatural forces.

In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, for example, there are the 10 Commandments.  These were handed down by God to govern the ways in which people behave.  But other religions that are not that similar to Christianity have ethical codes as well.  For example, many religions have elaborate sets of taboos that govern their adherents behaviors.

Another major common feature of most religions is ritual.  Practically all religions have rituals that must be performed on more or less of a regular basis.  These rituals are often the most public manifestations of the religion.

There are other commonalities, but I would argue that these are the most important features that are common to all or most religions.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


k9elliott2019 | Student

Perhaps the best answer for what unites all religions lies in the questions:

1) Where do we come from?

2) Where are we going?

3) Why are we here?

4) What has gone wrong & how do we fix it?

All major religions share these perennial questions posed by the human soul no matter where they exist on the planet. There are other questions as well, such as: What (who) is God? Monotheistic faiths such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam believe in an all-powerful creator god. Other religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and others believe in an impersonal "oneness" of all things; still others believe in no god at all – and the list goes on.

One can argue that at the core of all world religions is the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Unfortunately, religion has done a poor job in following its own mandates. It leaves a history of war, genocide, and intolerance in its often tumultuous wake; yet, some of the world's most lofty institutions such as hospitals, universities, and charities have their roots in religious compassion. One might say that the human soul is a beautiful tragedy that seeks to understand in often misguided ways, yet occasionally gets it gloriously right! Perhaps Alexander Solzhenitsyn says it best:

"The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and between all human hearts...."

amenkis | Student

Most world religions are seeking a goal beyond this world, what we might loosely call "salvation." For some religions that is a continued personal existence. For example, Christians look forward to an eternal existence in a new heaven and earth and Muslims seek Paradise, or Janna. Other religions view the ultimate goal as the cessation of existence. Buddhists hope to achieve Nirvana and Hindus strive after Moksha, that is, release from the cycle of reincarnation. Most world religions are in agreement about how to achieve their ultimate goal, even if they differ on exactly what that goal is. Generally speaking world religions agree on similar moral codes and teach that adherence to them will lead to that religions end goal.

amijo1025 | Student

Most world religions have a Deity or God that they believe has brought them together, in Faith, for a common purpose. This sovereign Lord is the most revered creator of the Universe and of man.

The teachings of each deity are passed down from centuries and are thoroughly updated with new resources and findings from religious zealots. The purpose of studying these books is to develop a relationship with your God or Allah.

philcollinsotuke | Student

I believe that all major religions believe in the supernatural being, they believe there is a higher power which watches over them so they must live according to a set standard of rules to please the supernatural being. 

zahira14 | Student
They believe in god they believe that there is always somebody watching over them no matter what
check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ask a Question