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Religion in Asia, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 543

Essay

One may or may not be religious but few would challenge the fact that religion continues to be one of the major forces that are shaping social, political, and cultural trends around the world. I am aware of the fact that Abrahamic religions continue to be the most dominant of all religions, with Christianity and Islam the biggest two in terms of followers. Even though Christianity still claims the most number of followers of any religion, it may be eclipsed by Islan in the near future due to number of factors such as high birth rates in Muslim-majority countries and declining birth rates in Christian-majority countries, especially developed economies. I am also aware of the fact that many major political conflicts around the world such as India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine, and the clash between the western societies and Al-Qaeda, ISIS etc. might not have existed were it not for different religious philosophies.

As far as religions in Asia are concerned, Islam is arguably the only Abrahamic faith with a wide presence in the region. Most of the dominant religions in Asia such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism also originated in the continent and continue to be widely practiced in their birth places. Many of these religions are more a life philosophy than religions in the traditional sense. I also understand these different religions share many common beliefs such as re-incarnation which should not be surprising since they are related to each other. For example, Hinduism and Jainism have certain common elements and I also suspect Buddhism has its roots in Hinduism as well. Another distinguishing element of many Asian religions may be the emphasis on relationship with the nature. This may be one of the factors why Asian religions have been becoming more popular in the west. It is also interesting that Yoga has religious roots and has been practiced for thousands of years though it may be a quite new phenomenon in the west.

As I start this course, there are many answers I may be interested in finding out. One question that puzzles me is the relatively smaller numbers of followers of Asian religions as opposed to Abrahamic faiths. One could say Hinduism is a major religion but India alone accounts for the majority of Hindus in the world. Abrahamic faiths found adherents in great numbers in places quite far away from their places of origins but same cannot be said about most Asian religions. I also wonder whether Asian religions are growing, declining or maintaining stable numbers, especially in developed economies like Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

I am also excited to learn about the evolution of Asian religions over time which may be quite an interesting experience. Many Asian religions are one of the oldest surviving faiths, thus, they may have even richer history than more dominant religions such as Christianity and Islam. I also hope this course will help me better understand the similarities and differences between different but quite similar Asian religions. For example, Hinduism and Jainism often appear quite similar and same is the case for Buddhism and Confucianism. Last but not least, I would also like to learn about the influence of Asian religions on politics, social life, and cultural affairs in countries where they have significant number of followers.

 

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