When you look around the world, you will notice that everyone adheres to some religious belief, perhaps you have friends or family members who follow another religion besides the one you believe in, perhaps you were raised as a Muslim or a Christain, and have continued to practice the faith that you were born into, believing with certainty that you are different in contrast to anyone outside of your faith. However, has it ever crossed your mind to learn and research other religions? Divisions have been the cause of countless conflicts between groups of people throughout history, you can find divisions everywhere, not only in religious matters, but you can find them in politics, race, nationalism and at times even between families. And yet, one of the most dangerous of divisions that is still present is between religious groups… you will always find political or religious leaders constantly kindling the fires of ignorance and hatred, and as a result, heated debates have taken place, insults exchanged, and sometimes blood is shed… And it is no secret that some leaders tend to sow seeds of discord between people, take Islamophobia for example, ever since the events of 9/11 is it not obvious how Muslims in general are portrayed as violent extremists and enemies of Mankind?
During World War 2, was it not obvious how Jews were being persecuted and exterminated because of the lies and extreme views imposed by a single man?
Didn’t the Tyrant Nero burn down two-thirds of the City of Rome and place blame upon the Early Christians? And there are plenty of more examples of how every religion has been attacked throughout history.
There has not been a single religion on the face of the earth that has not been attacked because of their apparent differences, and you will always find though-out history famous figures from all walks of life conspiring sinister plots against those from another faith, and in our day and age it is still happening, and if they cannot annihilate the religion, they will do what they can to suppress it or distort it, just look at the founders of these religions, you will find lessons from their biographies, let us examine Jesus Christ pbuh as an example: He was from the Children of Israel like any other Jewish man at his time, he called the people to God, claiming himself to be a Prophet, a Messenger, and a Messiah, yet his people denied him and did not tolerate his call. At the end of his story, you will find that they even conspired to have him arrested and crucified.
Each religious founder always came into conflict with religious scholars or tyrannical rulers in their time who did not tolerate them or their message. Just like in our day and age, you will find scholars speaking against and criticizing every other religion that is not their own, sometimes it even reaches to a point where one group condemns another to eternal damnation and suffering, perhaps it gets too extreme and events such as the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust take place, just take a look at what is happening today to Muslims in Burma in a Buddhist Majority Country, this is another sad example.
We will be examining Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Along with the Indian faiths Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, with the Chinese religions Confucianism and Taoism, and lastly the religions of Persia: Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, and see just what it is that all these religions share in common?
It is without a shadow of a doubt that all religions are fundamentally peaceful and non-violent, you will not find any of these religions from their doctrines condoning violence or the killing of innocent people, however, you will always find radicals who tend to spoil the image of these religions that they claim to adhere to by endorsing violence towards other faiths.
At first glance, these religions seem different, as if they have nothing to do with each other, completely independent beliefs containing very few similarities, and perhaps some may think that this is the reason for conflicts between groups of people. However, this is not the case.
Let us examine the most important pillar and belief in all these religions. Theism, the Abrahamic faiths, for example, are Monotheistic, the worship of only one God, while others may consider religions such as Hinduism to have several different gods and goddesses, which falls under the category of Polytheism, and others may say there are no divine deities or beings like those who adhere to Buddhism and Jainism. However, the truth is that all of these religions are monotheistic, although Hinduism is believed to be Polytheistic and Buddhism and Jainism are considered non-theistic religions. The truth is that they believe in a One Supreme God.
Both Taoism and Confucianism are Monotheistic religions. They worship One God, Shangdi, which means “The High God” in Chinese. However, the Confucian adherents may often refer to God as Tian, meaning “Heaven”, rather than Shangdi. Tian is not a different God, the name “Shangdi” was conflated with Heaven or ‘Tian’ – this is because Shangdi resides in Tian.
When it comes to the Persian religions such as Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, they are misunderstood to be believers in two gods, one good and one evil. However, this is not the case. Both of these religions believe that God is the creator of Good and does not create Evil, rather it is Angra Mainyu who creates Evil, and he is viewed by many to be similar to the Devil of the Abrahamic faiths. Angra Mainyu is not a 2nd God, but is referred to as a destructive spirit only. Thus the Religion of Mani pbuh and Zoroaster pbuh are monotheistic.
In Sikhism, this belief in one God is obvious, as their book states:
“My Lord and Master is One; He is the One and Only; O Siblings of Destiny, He is the One alone.”
– Guru Granth Sahib p. 350
In terms of Jainism, it is debated amongst the adherents whether or not there is an all-knowing God, like that of the Abrahamic faiths. However, a famous Jain Monk by the name of Samantabhadra had mentioned what it means to have the right faith. In his work he states:
“To believe, by fulfilling the eight requirements of true belief and without the three kinds of error and eight kinds of pride, in the true God, Scripture and Preceptor, the causes of the highest good is called Right Faith.”
– Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, Shloka 4-7
Buddha pbuh says in the 8th chapter on The Third Discourse about Nibbāna:
“There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks there were not THAT unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, you could not know an escape here from the born, become, made, and conditioned. But because THERE IS an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned, therefore you do know an escape from the born, become, made, and conditioned.”
This is an obvious reference to God, as all monotheistic religions have described God to be as such, and he is called Vajradhara or the Adi-Buddha. In Hinduism, he is Brahman, and the other gods and goddesses are but manifestations of Brahman. Since Brahman is too high to be understood, his manifestations allow a human being to know him. This is similar to the Islamic understanding of the names of God. Although God has 99 names, it does not mean that there are 99 Gods. For example, when you think of Prophets and Messengers, they are not worshipped by their people or followers, but they represent God to the creation and God is known through them. This one God is found in the Abrahamic faiths as Allah, Yahweh, Elohim, Hashem and so on. In Taoism and Confucianism, he is referred to as Shangdi or Tian. Zoroastrianism is believed to have inspired the Abrahamic belief in One God, and Manichaeism is viewed as a Gnostic form of Christianity, and these religions believe in the same God as the Abrahamic faiths. Although the languages produce different names in the apparent, it is still the same one, omnipotent creator and Lord of the worlds.
Not only do they all believe in One God, but the way they worship him is shockingly the same. When you examine all of these religions, you will notice that the one thing they all have in common is the act of bowing or prostration and supplication. They praise their lord and plead to him for their needs and desires. Each religion, however, has different movements and positions when they pray, but still do pray by bowing or prostrating and supplicating to the same one God.
Since a single Omnipotent God must exist, One who is believed to be all-good, loving, generous, and Light without darkness, there must be another world besides this one for those who have died. Many have asked, what happens after we die? Will we perish forever? Where do we go? All of these religions have a common belief. Each religion holds belief in an afterlife. A person’s afterlife can either be in Heaven or in Hell. Heaven, or Paradise, is filled with pleasure, goodness, and bliss. Each religion believes that if a man or woman has lived a righteous life, Heaven is their reward. However, one who has lived an evil life will be sent to be punished in Hell. Some individuals are even reincarnated back into this world.
Reincarnation is a belief that says that when a person dies, he becomes born again into a new body, living life anew. Although not all of these religions believe in reincarnation, there are some Sects within each of these religions that do believe in reincarnation. It is widely understood that reincarnation is a Jain, Buddhist, or Hindu belief, so it may surprise you that although the Abrahamic faiths do not believe in reincarnation in the apparent, some adherents believe in reincarnation, whether they follow a mainstream sect or not. Those who adhere to the mainstream Islamic sects, like the Sunnis or the Shia, may not believe in reincarnation at all, while other sects like the Nusayris believe that reincarnation is a truth that has been revealed to them from the family of Muhammad (pbut). Some Muslims use certain verses from the Quran to justify their belief in reincarnation, such as:
“How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned.”
– Holy Quran, Al-Baqara verse 28
In the Old Testament, Prophet Job pbuh said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there.”
– Holy Bible: Job 1:21
And in the New Testament Jesus pbuh said that Elijah pbuh had returned into this world as John the Baptist:
“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 11:13-14
Not only do the Abrahamic faiths have this belief in the transmigration of the soul, but even in Zoroastrianism those who follow the Ilm-e-Khshnoom school of thought believe in the reincarnation of the soul. Nonetheless, all mainstream sects do believe in an inevitable afterlife.
Prophet Mani pbuh had also preached reincarnation openly, and Manichaeism is well known for this belief. Mani pbuh had once claimed that a lion which had an arrow piercing its side, was Pontius Pilate reincarnated. Prophet Mani pbuh said:
‘You see this. That was Pilate, who once condemned Jesus; but in his favour he uttered one word, namely: Lo, my hands are pure from the blood of this Righteous One. On that account has he received forgiveness of (his) sins.’
– Manichean Homilies 91
Even in China, the Taoists and Confucians believe in reincarnation. It is believed that these two religions had incorporated reincarnation into their beliefs from Buddhism: Zhuang Zhou one, of the most influential Taoist Philosophers, writes:
“Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting-point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in. That through which one passes in and out without seeing its form, that is the Portal of God.”
Another belief that exists in all these religions is Karma. Karma is the Sanskrit word for ‘Action’, and the law of Karma revolves around the belief that whatever good you have done or whatever evil you have done, you will receive. You may have heard the expression, “What goes around, comes around” or “When you do good, good things happen to you, when you do bad, bad things happen to you.” This is exactly what Karma is, but perhaps some may ask, “Isn’t it only a Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain belief?” When you look at all these religions, there is a belief that whether in this life or the next, everyone will be held accountable for what he has put forth of good and evil deeds, and will be given rewards or punishments accordingly, so it is stressed upon by these religions to be virtuous and be a performer of good deeds. Each religion has a principle of this Law of Karma, and has warned us to ‘not do unto others what we would not like done unto us,’ This is a golden rule in all religions. Although the word Karma cannot be found in the Abrahamic religions, the concept and belief in Karma is undoubtedly there. According to the Quran:
“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”
– Holy Quran, Az-Zalzalah:7-8
And the sixth Successor of the religion of Islam, Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq pbuh said:
“Love for others whatever you love for yourself and dislike for others what you dislike for yourself.”
– Al-Amali by Sheikh Saduq, p. 401
Karma can also be found in the Bible, in both the New Testament and the Old Testament.
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
– Holy Bible: Matthew 7:12
In the Old Testament, King David pbuh, the Prophet of God implores God to enforce the Law of Karma upon his enemies. He says:
“Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve.”
– Holy Bible: Psalms 28:3-4
“One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self.”
– Mahabharata, Section 113
Buddha pbuh said:
“Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.”
– Udanavarga 5:18
Confucius pbuh said:
“Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”
– The Analects 12:2
It is attributed that Lao Tzu said:
‘Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss’
– Lao Tzu’s Treatise on the Response of the Tao
When the Manichaeans used to sing praises of the lord, they would say:
“My brothers, do not slacken in doing good by night and by day, for what the man plants is the same as what he shall reap.”
– Manichaean Psalms 52:3-5
Zoroaster pbuh taught his followers to hold on to threefold: ‘Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds.’ At the end, he preached, there is a Judgment Day, in which the souls are judged upon what their good and evil deeds were. They would abide in either heaven as a Paradise or in Hell as torment. In their books it states:
“Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.”
– Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29
Even the openly Monotheistic religion, Sikhism, explicitly mentions Karma:
“As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of Karma.”
– Guru Granth Sahib p. 134
Is it not interesting that all these faiths have the same idea of Karma?
And there is more…all of them have a house of Worship. For the Muslims, it is a Mosque, for the Christians, it is a Church, for the Jews a Synagogue, and the Manichaeans had their Church and sometimes they would be referred to as Temples, and as for the Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Confucians, and Taoists, their places of worship are known as temples. For the Sikhs, it is known as Gurdwara. However, regardless of how different they are by name and appearance, whether the building has a dome or not, all of these structures were built for the same purpose: to worship God and to advance oneself in spirit. And as we had gone over earlier, the actions during prayers that each of these religions perform are very similar to one another. You will often see those who adhere to these religions in a state bowing, prostration, and supplication to their lord.
Besides the acts and places of worship, Meditation plays an important role in these religions: Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are known for the belief in the practice of Meditation. The Subcontinent of India can be thought of as the Land where the practice originated from. When you hear the word Meditation, you will probably automatically picture Prophet Buddha pbuh meditating under a tree, pursuing his path to achieve enlightenment. You can find this being practiced by Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Confucians, and Taoists without question, but it is not exclusive to these select groups. In fact, you will find the practice of Meditation in every belief. In Islam, before he received his revelations at the age of forty, Prophet Muhammad pbuhahf had performed Tahannuth for 40 days in a cave. Tahannuth is the practice of isolating oneself, praying, and self-reflection. It is widely believed by Muslims that Prophet Muhammad pbuhahf had meditated in a cave, seeking God and reflecting on him. This has encouraged many Muslims today to look into meditation and to practice it. The Prophet pbuhahf also prescribed Dhikr in his community, it is the practice of remembering God through reciting certain phrases continuously in remembrance of him, this can be done silently in the mind or aloud. Dhikr is considered a method of meditation, as you are only focusing on one thing… and that is God.
Christianity and Judaism also share meditation as a practice. In the Old Testament, Prophet Isaac pbuh had practiced meditation. In Genesis it states:
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening.”
– Holy Bible: Genesis 24:63
Since Jesus also believed in the past prophets and messengers, surely he himself would have encouraged or practiced meditation. It is believed by many Christians that while Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights in isolation, he was also in a constant state of meditation. Whether he truly was meditating during those forty days or not, we can clearly see that many Christians were inspired by this act, and meditation is practiced today within Christianity. One of the oldest known practices of meditation amongst Christians came from a group of hermits known as the Desert Fathers. This meditation was known as Hesychasm. It is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer, where the practitioner is in a quiet, still, and contemplative state on the words being said to God, or contemplating on God alone while praying.
Prophet Zoroaster pbuh, before having his first divine vision, is believed to have spent years in the wilderness meditating and trying to reach God. Prophet Mani pbuh also practiced meditation.
Prophet Mani pbuh said:
“The pure devout must sit down in pious meditation and he should turn away from sin and increase what is pious.”
– Prophet Mani pbuh
In Sikhism, meditation is used to connect with God the Almighty. The Guru states:
“O my mind, meditate on the Lord, the Lord, your Lord and Master.”
– Guru Granth Sahib p. 1201
All these religions also have their own Holy Scriptures, revealed by their founders, or compilations of sayings of the founders from their followers. The Muslims have what is known as the Quran, the Christians, the New Testament, the Jews, the Torah, the Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhists, the Pali Canon, the Taoists, the Tao Te Ching, the Confucians, the Analects, the Zoroastrians, the Avesta, the Manichaeans,The Gospel of Mani, the Jains, the Agam Sutras, and the Sikhs have the Guru Granth Sahib. These texts contain wisdom that has passed on from these founders to their followers, allowing the followers to be led correctly and being able to know what is good from what is bad.
Since Good exists, there must be evil. Where there is light, there is darkness. People are born either male or female, this is the principle of duality. Everything has its opposite. For example, the Yin and Yang, one is light with some darkness and the other, darkness with some light.
In Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism, you have Ahura Mazda, who is good, and Angra Mainyu, who is evil. All religions share this belief in Duality, there is Good and there is Evil, there is God and there is the Devil, all of these religions also share beings who are unseen, beings that are benevolent and beings that are malicious. The Abrahamic faiths, along with Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, believe in beings known as Angels. They are good and obey the commands assigned to them by God. There are also evil beings, Demons, who obey the prince of Darkness, Satan. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, the likeness of Abrahamic Angels are the Devas, their role is the same as the Abrahamic faiths idea of Angels: they are ascribed specific tasks from God and have supernatural abilities humans cannot perform. Demons also exist in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, just like in the story of how Buddha pbuh was tempted by the Demon Mara to abandon his quest to enlightenment, and the Demon Kali came into the world as soon as Krishna pbuh had left it. Kali is seen as the Prince of Darkness in Hinduism, who promotes all kinds of irreligious activities, making mankind fall into sin and error. These three religions also believe that just as good spirits exist, so do evil ones.
In Taoism and Confucianism, Angels are Immortal beings called Xian, and the Yaoguai are considered to be malevolent demons.
In Sikhism, demons and angels also exists. The Guru Granth Sahib indicates an Angel of death. It states:
“Chitr and Gupt are the recording angels of the conscious and subconscious.”
– Guru Granth Sahib p. 1292
Another mysterious belief that all religions hold is that which concerns this world. Many people today consider this world to be their reality. And all of these religions believe that this world is just an illusion. Think of it as today’s virtual reality headsets, when you put a headset on, you are completely immersed into that virtual world. You know that what you are experiencing within the game simulation isn’t real, but for some reason it feels very real. Could this world be just like a video game?
Every religion, whether it is stated in their holy books explicitly or allegorically, or perhaps from the philosophers of each religion, holds the belief that this world is simply not real. For example, the Quran describes the world as a game. It states:
“And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.”
– Holy Quran, Aal e Imran:185
Doesn’t it make sense why each of these founders always focused on the hereafter as their aim and neglected worldly life?
All the religions of the Indian Subcontinent, believe that the world is in fact “Maya”, meaning illusion. Even Zhuangzi, one of Taoism’s great philosophers, had thought about this:
It is believed that one night, Zhuangzi dreamed of being a butterfly — a happy butterfly, showing off and doing things as he pleased, unaware of being Zhuangzi. Suddenly he awoke, drowsily, Zhuangzi again. And he could not tell whether it was Zhuangzi who had dreamt the butterfly or the butterfly dreaming Zhuangzi. All religions – Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Jainism, and Sikhism believe that this world is simply an illusion. That is why each of its founders is said to have lived an ascetic or simple life, for they knew that this life was nothing compared to the life that was to come – the real world. Unfortunately, humanity has forgotten this belief and is uncertain of whether this world truly is an illusion or not, until now…
One of the most important beliefs all of these religions have is the belief in the ‘End Times,’ in which justice prevails over the world, evil is vanquished and a new era begins, an era in which knowledge is sprung forth and ignorance will dissipate. It is a time in which good prevails over evil, the Kingdom of Heaven is established, a Just, Divine State, just as God had intended it. But there must be someone who comes to bring about this new era, after all, change does not happen simply because of mankind’s desire for it. How many revolutions have we seen that ever resulted in positive change? Riots take place, rulers are removed and a new one is elected, in the end, a corrupt tyrant takes the reins of power and subjects his people to conditions that are far worse than what they previously had. There must be someone from God who can save humanity from their own selves. And this saviour is not for only one particular people, after all, the roads that lead to God are many for those who are sincere. Do the people really think that God, who is Good, Benevolent, Kind, Loving, and Merciful, will send someone to Hell, just because they were practicing the wrong religion? God is far greater than this, and he guides those who truly believe and trust Him to guide their affairs, and just like in the past, he again has sent us someone from him, our Saviour, the one whom all religions have been awaiting.
Just as God had sent Zoroaster and Mani in Persia, Buddha and Krishna in the Subcontinent of India, Confucius and Lao Tzu in China, Moses in Egypt, Jesus in the Kingdom of Judah, and Muhammad in the Arabian Desert, so too has God sent his chosen one in this time. All religions are, in fact, one, as they all point toward one man, a man who reveals the truth of all things and demolishes falsehood whether it be a system or doctrine. He is the Saviour of mankind, and he is Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan fhip, the first of the Twelve Mahdis and the vicegerent of his father, Imam Al-Mahdi. They are the ones who will establish justice, equity, and truth in this world after it has now been filled with corruption, oppression, and falsehood.
Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan fhip is the one who has brought the true religion of God after it has been distorted and changed, just as the prophecies from the Family of Muhammad pbut have foretold:
Imam Al-Baqir pbuh said: “The Qa’im rises with a new matter and a new book and a new ruling, which will be difficult upon the Arabs.”
– Al-Ghayba, Ibn Abi Zainab Al-No’mani, 1st ed., p.238, hadith 19 (Online book: p.236)
In this age, Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan fhip has revealed the truths of all that which has come before. He has declared that there is no God except for Allah, that all the true prophets and messengers are from God, and that the 12 Imams and the 12 Mahdis are the representatives of God on this earth. He has revealed that there is an afterlife which can be our heaven or our hell, he has taught us that Reincarnation and Karma are true, he revealed that meditation carries many benefits for its practitioners. He has confirmed that angels and demons do exist, and he has revealed that this world is an illusion, it is like a dream or like a very advanced virtual reality that we are living in, and he has revealed that as of right now, we are living in the end times.
The similarities are too great to ignore, the founders are peaceful and had scriptures dedicated to their teachings. According to each religious founder and their traditions, there is a belief in One God, Angels, and Demons, an Afterlife, Law of Karma, Reincarnation, and Meditation. They have houses of Worship in which they identically worship God, whether it is by supplicating, standing, prostrating, or bowing, they all believe that this world is an Illusion and they have all spoken of The End Times. Now, the Saviour Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan fhip has confirmed what has come before, revealing that there is not that much of a difference between his call and the calls of his predecessors…
Let us put aside our small differences. The bigger picture is clear, all of these religions lead towards One Truth, One God, One Call, and in this day and age Imam Ahmad al-Hassan fhip is that call, the representative of God in our age. Let us support the one who God has sent in our time, let us all put aside these petty differences in front of the representative of God, let us become…United.