An attempt will be made to identify the top two current issues each religion faces as well as look at two sacred traditions and study the significance and major characteristics of each. Judaism Judaism is monotheistic in nature and has been described as a religion, a race, a culture, and a nation. All of these descriptions have some validity to them but Judaism is best described by some as an extended family (Rich, 2006). This extended family consists of four movements Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist.
All of which, still find themselves victims of discrimination known as anti-Semitism which is based on stereotypes and myths and often invokes the belief that Jews have extraordinary influence with which they conspire to harm or control society. For those Jews living in the Middle East there is also the very real danger and threats from a powerful country possibly in possession of nuclear weapons. The president of Iran threatened them publicly with annihilation. Discrimination and threats of violence Jews are a very real part of Jewish life but there are just as many positive popular time honored traditions that exists still today.
One of which is the wedding tradition. The tradition begins with the husband signing a Ketabuh, the grooms marital contractual obligation to the bride. The groom is then led to the Chuppah, a tarp this symbolizes their future home together. The bride is led in with singing and dances and then she circles the groom seven and comes to stand to the right of him. After several additional steps the marriage is blessed and ends in a wedding feast. Another Jewish tradition performed prior to Yom Kippur is called the ceremony of kapparot. The practice was first discussed at the beginning of the ninth century.
It was believed that the sins of an individual could be transferred to a fowl, a rooster for men and a hen for women. The fowl was to be held over the head and swung in a circle three times while the following was spoken: This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement; this rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace. (Schwartz, 2009) The fowl was then donated to the poor and hoped to take on any misfortune that might have occurred to the one who took part in the ritual. The primary sacred text used by the Jews is the Torah.
Christianity is currently noted to be the largest religion in the world today, with around two billion followers. Christian beliefs center on the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the son of God. Jesus teachings focused on the kingdom of God, love of God, and love of one another. Today there are many different views his teachings and the meaning of some forms of love. One of the most controversial topics in the faith today is that of practicing homosexuality. The Christian bible stems from the Jewish sacred text which banned homosexuality of any kind.
The bible even talks of God destroying two cities over homosexual behavior (Clark, 2009). Today many leaders condone the behavior and some are even practicing it themselves. While homosexuality may serve as a religious divider here in the U. S. , persecution is served cold as a divisionary disabling tactic abroad. It is the number one issue facing many Christians today, outright discrimination as in the case with Jews as mentioned earlier. In countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Saudi Arabia, and others Christians are being martyred because of their refusal to denounce Christianity.
Everyday there are approximately 465 people killed because they will not give up their faith in Jesus (Dearmore, 2009). Most Christians in the U. S. attend a church service of some kind one to three times a week. This is a time honored tradition, just as the wedding tradition is in Judaism. The reason behind this is to participate in a time of fellowship with one another. Normally, the tradition includes worship service, private and corporate prayer, the study and reading of scriptures, and collection of tithes and offerings. There is also the coming together for celebration of special holidays.
The most important Christian holiday is Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ and Christmas the celebration of his birth. Christian practices differ by denomination. Easter is a central theme for most if not all denominations. The origin of the word Easter is not certain but it was probably derived from Estre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring (Dreamweaver, 2009). It is a celebration of the central event of the Christian faith, the belief that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day following his death and burial.
It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year. There is evidence that the resurrection used to be celebrated every Sunday until some point in the first two centuries when it was agreed to move it to once a year. The sacred text of Christianity is the Bible. Islam The Islamic religion is monotheistic in nature; they follow one God named Allah. The primary meaning of Islam is peace and the prime message is the Unity of God. Islam identifies Jesus and John the Baptist as prophets. They also believe that there will be no other prophet after the prophet Muhammad.
One of the primary concerns facing the Muslim community still today is retribution after the terrorists attacks of 11 Sept 2001. Many Islamic followers faced discrimination on all fronts because of the fear of their culture and religious stereotyping (Clark, 2009). The attacks on American soil left a scary imprint of terror in the minds and hearts of many. The media portrayal added fuel to the fire and did nothing to ease the tensions caused by the scary pictures of death left behind. Unfortunately, there is also the fight with fundamentalist ideology and division among their own religious sects.
Some groups are teaching others to hate Jews, Christians, and Americans as well as others. In the midst of this hate is a tradition of peace and goodwill towards others. One of the most important traditions is the observance of the Five Pillars of Islam. This involves witnessing to the fact that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. The second pillar is Salat, facing toward Mecca, the Holy Land of Muhammad, five times a day and kneeling in prayer. The third pillar is Alms giving, which encompasses giving charitably to other Muslims. The fourth is the performance of a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime.
Last is to observe fasting during Ramadan. Muslims normally worship in Mosque; they kneel prostrate on small prayer rugs. The rugs may look to be small oriental carpets. Muslims kneel as a sign of humility before God. There is only one requirement that the place of prayer be clean. The rug is approximately one meter in length just long enough for an adult to fit on comfortably. When prayer time comes the rug is placed on the ground with the top pointed in the direction of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. After prayer the rug is immediately folded and put away until next time.
The Arabic word for a prayer rug is sajada, which comes from the same root word (SJD) as masjed (mosque) and sujud (prostration) (Huda, What are prayer rugs, and how are they used by Muslims? ). This paper discussed three major religions of today and two current issues that they face. It also examined the characteristics of some of their valued traditions. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have one central theme in common besides the discrimination they all endure; they are all monotheistic in nature. They all believe in their own sacred text, their own version of truth.