- Hindu Rights and Rituals: Describe Hindu worship and the role it plays within the Hindu Religion
Puja is a term that directly refers to Hindu worship, which is practiced primarily on an individual basis (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005). Such is in line with the premise of Hinduism, which emphasizes on the value of personal experience in terms of its worship (Kreeft, n.d.). Deities in Hinduism are worshipped privately, such that it involves the supplication of personal offerings made by worshippers. Gods are typically chosen for worship according to preference, their images displayed at homes and are given incense, water and food, among many others (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005). The shrine contains the images of the gods worshipped, which is stored in any prominent space inside the house of worshippers. Again, the worshipper may arrange the shrine in accordance to his reverence to the god he worships – an idea that emanates from the emphasis of Hinduism on its esoteric practice (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005). The adornments that typically characterize shrines for gods reflect the personal experience of worshippers and their desire to reach enlightenment (Kreeft, n.d.). However, it is highly notable that worshippers tend to conduct worship with their families for three times a day – a recognition that the individual experience towards enlightenment is shared with the entire household (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005).
Worshippers also practice puja inside temples, which contains various symbolic meanings that have great relevance to the nature of Hinduism as a religion relative to experience (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005; Kreeft, n.d.). The shrine inside a Hindu temple is situated at the center, which reflects the importance of putting gods at the hearts of worshippers. The structure of a Hindu temple, which is usually towering in nature, is symbolic of the goal of worshippers to raise their spirits towards enlightenment (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005; Kreeft, n.d.). Moreover, since Hinduism emphasizes on the belief in incarnation as one of the processes towards reaching enlightenment, worshippers who are born twice are deemed to have the preference in terms of reciting the Vedas inside the temple, although a priest is primarily assigned to do so (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005; Kreeft, n.d.). Hindu worship also involves three religious rites: nitya, naimittika and kamya. Nitya refers to rituals conducted in home shrines, naimittika refers to rituals conducted during special occasions and kamya refers to rituals that are special but noncompulsory in nature, such as pilgrimages (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005). Pilgrimages are conducted in designated pilgrimage sites during specific times, among which include the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, visits to the Ganges – the holiest river for Hindu worshippers, and its riverbank city of Varanasi (“Worship (Hinduism),” 2005).
- Islam: Discuss Sharia Law
Sharia law is the fundamental set of legal codes observed by all Muslims, its composition including different important aspects that reflect the Islamic faith. Sources from the Qur’an – the holy book of Islam, the Hadith – the book of sayings by Prophet Muhammad, and fatwas – interpretations of Islamic clerics and scholars, all form the entirety of Sharia law (“Sharia,” 2009). Notably, Sharia law is highly misunderstood outside Islam, given that it is widely cited as the basis of actions of Islamic fundamentalists – terrorists, criminals and anti-feminists, among many others. The system of punishment imbued advocated by Sharia law, which involves inhumane punishments that do not hold any place in modern human rights concepts (examples include stoning, amputation and lashings), are typically cited by non-Muslims against its viability (“Sharia,” 2009). Nonetheless, Muslims see Sharia law as necessary in its entirety, given that in their view, it “nurtures humanity” via divine revelations against social problems, which need to be superseded in order to fulfill their potentials as adherents of Islam (“Sharia,” 2009). The “Clear Path” philosophy emphasizes the central doctrine that holds the validity of Sharia law for Muslims, as it is reflective of the belief in Islam emphasizing on the creation of all souls prior to the beginning of time, not during birth (“Sharia,” 2009).
The practice of Sharia law varies across nations that hold Muslim populations. Understandably, Sharia law intersects with secular legal practices, particularly that of democracy, with their relationship being either complementary (dual system), supplementary (secular system) or contradicting (purely Sharia system). The complementary practice of Sharia law with secular legal practices feature in nations that discretionally define the jurisdictions for each, in an attempt to keep both in practice without any potential conflict. Typically, Sharia law in nations that complementarily practice it reserve its application for disputes that are civil in nature (John & Sergie, 2014). The supplementary practice of Sharia law with secular legal practices allow Islamist political parties to gain office, but are nonetheless wary of their fundamentalist beliefs that may run against the idea of state-religion separation (John & Sergie, 2014). The pure practice of Sharia law, which clash with secular legal practices deemed as rebellious, mandate its full implementation and typically characterizes the label “Islamic state.” An Islamic state, therefore, does not recognize any other legal system other than that advocated by Sharia law and it is common within nations whose majority of populations comprise primarily of Muslims (John & Sergie, 2014).
- Jewish Law: Discuss the nature and function of Jewish law and its function within Judaism
Jewish law, called the Torah, comprises of what non-Jewish people called the Old Testament, which is technically the five books that comprise the Hebrew Bible (Jewish Virtual Library). Other names for the Torah include the Pentateuch, Chumash or the Books of Moses, who is touted to have received those by God from Mount Sinai (Jewish Virtual Library). The Torah is taken as a universal law by the Jews, who claim that it was offered by God to Israel after it was rejected by the rest of the nations around the world (Jewish Virtual Library). In that sense, the abidance by the Torah signifies the covenant every Jew has with God, which is regarded as not just the creator of the universe, but also one that can share personal relationships with every adherent of the Jewish faith (“Jewish beliefs,” 2009). Therefore, the Torah functions within Judaism as the law that sets the boundaries characterizing the covenant between every Jew and God, as it ensures that the Jewish people would keep their faith by bringing “holiness into every aspect of their lives” (“Jewish beliefs,” 2009). Such, in turn, is highly relevant to the rather exclusive nature of the Jewish people, who entitle themselves as the appointees of God to make the world a holier place by serving as examples (“Jewish beliefs,” 2009).
What makes the Torah unique is its designation as a book that came from Heaven, with God having written it even before the creation of the world. Moses, in that regard, is given a special place in Judaism given his status as the recipient of the Torah from God at Mount Sinai (Jewish Virtual Library). Thus, one could explain why the Jewish people regard themselves via the Torah as persons tasked by God to spread holiness to other people. Such lies in the designation of being a Jew, which is borne out of being born to a Jewish mother, with even converts to Judaism generally not regarded as among the Jewish people. Following that, it is generally deemed difficult to convert to Judaism, yet Jews only “lose the religious element of their Jewish identity” if they convert to another religion (“Jewish beliefs,” 2009). Moreover, the Torah advocates that everything a Jew does must be in accordance to goodwill and holiness it teaches, as such constitutes an act of worship. In that case, Jews practice their faith through all their actions and Judaism, in that regard, “is a faith of action” (“Jewish beliefs,” 2009).
Comparing Christianity & Hinduism. (n.d.). In PeterKreeft.com. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/religions_hinduism.htm
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Johnson, T., and Sergie, M. (2014, July 25). Islam: Governing under Sharia. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from http://www.cfr.org/religion/islam-governing-under-sharia/p8034
Judaism: The written law - Torah. (n.d.). In Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved December 19, 2014, from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Written_Law.html
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