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Comparative Religion - Essay Example

There have been in the religious discourse, plenty of theories and theoretical paradigms pertaining to the need, purpose and the importance of religion in the lives of the people who follow them. Some of these theories are worth noting. For instance, James Frazer (pp. 232-246), an anthropologist of evolutionary school of thought, places religion in a nonlinear hierarchical evolutionary ladder in which, the first step is magic followed by religion and subsequently by science. He argues that the earlier people were not aware of the ‘real’ reasons behind the natural processes and so, came up with explanations that now sound fantastical and unlikely. These explanations form the realm of magic and soothe the human anxiety when the mind could not find any other explanation. However, man soon realized that magic could not work in all situations and there has to be a definite propitiation of the higher power in the way things pan out in the universe and thus religion was born. According to Frazer (pp. 256-278), it came out of a need to reconcile the ideal with the real i.e. the happenings of the real world were not explained completely by the human intervention alone and thus the need for a divine explanation was born. A related theory of Sigmund Freud, the famous psychologist, presents religion as a response to the need of putting the responsibility of one’s action off to a higher invisible power, usually male which represents the innate need of man to be able to depend on a strong male figure. Although highly infamous and usually discredited, this theory does lay sufficient groundwork in answering the question of why people need religion in their lives and why, more importantly, it provides them the comfort that it is reported to provide. However, the most intriguing and interesting feature of the religious discourse is its diversity. The religions across the world are diverse in all respects. Some base their belief system on the existence of one God, while others believe in a series of gods and goddesses; still others seem to reject the idea of God altogether. These religions are monotheism, polytheism and atheism respectively (n.d., 56). This is the most primary way of classifying religion. There are other ways too. Some religions stem from myths whereas others from revealed books. Some religions revolve around a charismatic leader or an inspirational figure, whose guidelines form the foundation of the ethical conduct of the religion. The comparative analysis of the religions is one of the most popular streams in religious discourses in present-day academia. Scholars take great interest in juxtaposing religions to each other, comparing different common units to each other. The scope of this paper limits itself to such a comparison between two world religions namely, Islam and Hinduism. The paper tries to compare and contrast Islam and Hinduism in several respects and approach some platform of commonalities and differences between the two. Comparison of Religious History The Islam and Hinduism have diverse religious histories. Whereas Islam has a unified, straightforward origin, Hinduism’s history through time is still very much in debate. Islam, as a religion, started in 600 A.D (Lantiqua, 98). Prophet Muhammad, the last messenger of God, according to Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, initiated the religion when he received the first revelation from God via his angel, Gabriel. Islam spread as a movement and approached the doors of Meccans, other Arabs and emperors of neighboring countries by the followers and close friends ...Show more


Religion has been one of the most studied and yet the most intriguing notions of society. Particularly, one can observe no other discourse more discussed, pointed fingers at, probed, and studied than the religion…
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Comparative Religion essay example
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