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18 World Most Powerful Religions That Shapes Human Beliefs! Are You Following Any of This?

Religion is a derivative of the Latin word religio, which means “a bond” or “sanctity”, which was further derived from Religare, another Latin word meaning “to tie”. In a vast world with an array of uncertainty and doubts, human beings keep their thoughts and beliefs centered on a specific set of sacred practices, morals, and ideology, which is coined as religion.

It is a subjective lifestyle people choose to live in relation to what they consider otherworldly or reverent. The world comprises a diverse range of religions followed by distinct groups of people. Let’s discuss a bit more about the religions of the world.


The 1st century CE, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, marked the beginning of Christianity, a monotheistic religion. Having over two billion followers, Christianity is the largest of the religions in the world.

The teachings of Jesus spread through the Jewish communities by apostles like Paul, after his death and spread farther across the Roman Empire. The spread of Christianity, however slow, reached a wide range of people and was chosen more than most religions of the world.

The reasons for the growth in its following had a lot to do with what Christianity preached and how it appealed to a majority of the community. With the growing beliefs and range, it got subdivided into three limbs- Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.

To preserve the essence and the teachings of Christianity from its earliest beliefs, the Holy Bible was written, consisting of the Old Testament and the New Testament, which is considered sacred.

Over the past 2,000 years, Christianity has continued to impact the world and the ways people live and it continues to do so. It has led philosophy, art, science, and literature into people’s lives and has also had a great impact on the education of the world.


The start of the 7th century marked the creation of Islam. Of the major religions in the world, Islam was the youngest. Prophet Muhammad was the founding figure of the second largest religion of the world at present.

Muhammad began spreading the word of God, which was revealed to him by the archangel Gabriel, as believed by his followers in Mecca, modern-day Saudi Arabia. The origin of the word Islam took root from the Arabic word “ ‘aslama ”, which means ‘submit(to God)’. Muslims regarded the rise of Islam as a way to connect to the original faith of the prophets. Islam is a monotheistic religion.

The teachings of Allah given to Prophet Muhammad were preserved in The Qur’an. Islam infused the society with the message of equality and brotherhood. Moreover, Islam contributed to the development of public libraries, surgical tools, and the discovery of algebra and optics.


Judaism is the oldest religion in the world that is monotheistic in nature. It originated nearly 4,000 years back, with Abraham being its founder, in Jerusalem. The symbol used by the Jews to represent their religion is the six pointed star, known as The Star of David, referring to the ancient ‘shield’ of the king of Israel.

It is believed that Abraham, a Hebrew man, was a part of the special covenant created by God and he and his bloodline were made sacred people and given land. The Hebrew Bible, also known as Tanakh, is a collection of biblical texts, also subdivided into three parts-Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim. The most significant document of Judaism, however, is the Torah. At present, Judaism is the 10th largest religion of the world.


Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world, with its origin dating back to over 5,000 years. It started in the Indus Valley as a development of beliefs brought around by the Aryans. Hence, there is no specific founder but a collection of beliefs and practices in reference to the Vedas. It originated from the Brahmin class and spread to become more popular.

The people that helped in making Hinduism the most popular religion of the Indian subcontinent were The Gupta Emperors. However, the cast distinction prevented the growth of Hinduism to a larger extent. It was also considered to be inherited by birth which made it nearly impossible for outsiders to adopt this religion.

Hinduism has two primary symbols associated with it, the om and the swastika, which represents good luck. Hinduism is diverse in its traditions. Thus, it represents a range of religious practices such as henotheism, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, pandeism, panentheism, monism, agnosticism, atheism, and nontheism. The most prominent texts of Hinduism are written in Bhagavad Gita. Hinduism, at present, is the third largest religion of the world.


Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, sometimes between the fifth and the sixth century BCE. It originated after the death of Gautama Buddha, when his followers started spreading his preaching through religious movements. It was believed that Gautama Buddha, after having found enlightenment, spread the teachings about spirituality for the rest of his life. Buddhism first spread in the North-eastern India.

Buddhism is one of the largest religions of the world and has been in existence for the past 2,500 years. Buddhism believes in human suffering and the attainment of enlightenment or nirvana through spiritualism and meditation. The Buddhist show reverence to Buddha, however they do not believe him to be God, neither do they believe in any other God.

The sacred texts of Buddhism, which are the teachings of Buddha, are inclusively known as the Tripitakas. Throughout the Buddhism religion, eight symbols are used as a representation of their religion- the dharma wheel, a white parasol, a lotus flower, an endless knot, a conch shell, a victory banner, a pair of golden fish, and a treasure vase. Most monks and nuns that are a part of Buddhism, make lifelong commitment to stay celibate.


The fifth largest of the religions of the world, Sikhism, was founded on 13th April 1699 in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the one who formed this religion. Guru Nanak preached about love for all.

The religion took place when people realized that the faith taught something other religions did not. Sikhs believed in the will of God and existence of Waheguru even before the universe existed. Sikhs have the five Ks meant to represent their religion as well as a triangular saffron flag. The five Ks consist of Kesh(uncut hair), Kara(a steel bracelet), Kanga(a wooden comb), Kaccha(a cotton underwear), and Kirpan(steel sword).

Furthermore, Sikh religion focuses on three beliefs: reverence upon the Creator, honest living, and service to humanity. The most sacred place to the Sikhs is the Golden Temple and their holy book is called the Granth Sahib.

Baha’i Faith:

In 1844, the roots of the Baha’i religion emerged from the Babi faith. It was founded by Mirza Husayn ‘Ali Nuri in Iran. He proclaimed the emergence of a new messenger who would change the beliefs of the old era and bring forth new customs in a new era.

The Baha’i Faith focuses their belief in equality for all, while rejecting racism and nationalism. The five-pointed star, also known as haykal is the symbol of Baha’i Faith. The Baha’is do not reject other religions or their teachings, but believe in the occurrence of divine messengers over the time.


One of the oldest religions of the world, Jainism, was founded by Vardhamana Jnatiputra or Nataputta Mahavira. However, it is believed by many that the real founder of Jainism was Rishabhdeva, the first Tirthankara in Jainism.34 It originated in the 7th century in the Ganges basin of eastern India.

Right belief, right knowledge, and right conduct are the “three jewels” that guide the Jains. In addition to these principles, there are five fundamentals that Jainism focuses on: Non-Violence, Truthfulness, Non-Stealing, Celibacy, and Non-Possessiveness. The symbol that represents Jainism has a hand with a wheel on the palm. It symbolizes Ahimsa in Jainism.


Zarathustra, in the 6th century, founded Zoroastrianism in Persia. It is a monotheistic religion. Parsi follow the Zoroastrianism religion in India. Additionally, it is one of the oldest religions of the world to be monotheistic.

Zoroastrians believe in one God called Ahura Mazda and they believe him to be the Creator. Water, Earth, and Fire are seen as sacred elements in this religion, where Fire is a symbol of purity.

Furthermore, the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster were stored in a sacred book called Avesta. The Zoroastrians focus on the Threefold Path of Asha that consists of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds.


Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, poet and politician, introduced a new way of living and founded Confucianism in the 6th-5th century BCE. This way of living was followed by the Chinese people for over two millennia.

This philosophy was based on respect and kindness for one another. It was propagated to bring about harmony in society. In the societies based in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China, it remains the principle code of conduct.


Its origin took place in China in the sixth century B.C. by the philosopher Lao Tzu. Taoism is similar to Buddhism in beliefs, such as reincarnation, and ultimate goal towards enlightenment. Taoism is today, one of the major religions of the world as well as one of the oldest ones and is practiced throughout the world.

It is represented by a Taoist visual symbol called the Yin-Yang, also referred to as the Taiji symbol. Taoists follow the principles of inaction, simplicity, and living in peace with nature.


Shinto was introduced as a distinct religion in the 19th century even though its root took place by the 8th century, in Japan. Shinto has its main belief centered to the worship of kami, the spirits inheriting the natural world.

Their beliefs include divination, water purification, and lustration. Ancient Shinto was considered to be polytheistic. Torii is an important and sacred Shinto symbol that marks the entrance to the shrines.

Chinese Folk Religion:

Chinese Folk Religion constitutes Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Chinese archaic Shamanism. It is different from the religions it is combined off because it has no rigid belief or practice, but consists of a mixture of beliefs from the aforementioned religions. Its origin dates back to the Sung Dynasty (960-1279). Its beliefs also happen to include paganism. Chinese Folk religion is polytheistic as well as pantheist in nature.


The Roman Catholicism was founded by Jesus Christ in Judea. All Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics. Catholics use the New American Bible as their sacred text. Catholics believe in the reverence of Jesus Christ, redemption, the Trinity, accountability of his/her actions at death. The crucifix is a symbol of sacrifice and atonement, and can be found anywhere in the presence of a Catholic.

Traditional African Religions:

All African beliefs and practices that are religious but are not defined by any other religion, is what we have coined as Traditional African Religion or Animism. Worship of the tutelary deities, nature, ancestors, and the belief that there is life after death is what is believed to be a part of Traditional African Religious beliefs.

The emergence of the religion can be traced back to the very birth of the African people, however, there is no specific account of when this religion originated or by whom.


It was a religious and philosophical movement that focused on salvation and inner knowledge. The ultimate goal of the people practicing this religion was to gain sacred knowledge to be free of this world after their death. It is believed that this religion may have been originated by the second century CE, and is one of the oldest religions in the world.


The Greek philosopher Diagoras was the first atheist, who criticized religion and the existence of deities or the afterlife. Atheism is a belief that is being wildly followed in the world like a religion. The actual term was first originated in the 16th century. The atheists use the symbol of the atomic whirl to represent themselves.

Greek Orthodox:

Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox follow the same beliefs, however, the Greek Orthodox do not consider the pope to be infallible, whereas, the Roman Catholics do.


This is, in no way, completion of the religions of the world. The existence of beliefs and customs is not limited. There is a vast population with varied thinking and distinct beliefs, who practice religion more different than what we have read till now. However, it still contains the major religions of the world, that are in practice more than most.


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