Which religions consider themselves universal

Religions - Similarities and Differences

Religions - Similarities and Differences

When preparing for the Martinsbote 2015-2, the editorial team dealt with the different religions in Germany.

Which four main religions are represented here? What distinguishes them from each other and - what the editorial team thinks is even more important - what do they have in common? An attempt was made to illustrate this with the aid of a number of questions. The result is a lot of facts and information and especially a lot in common.

(Kirsten Heinsohn)


Religions - Similarities and Differences

C: = Christianity, J: = Judaism, I: = Islam, B: = Buddhism

1) Origin of religion

C: Originated from a Jewish rabbi school of the teacher Jesus of Nazareth

J:The history of the Jewish people begins with the covenant that God made with Abraham (Genesis 12).

I: Merchant Mohammed had apparitions of an angel who referred to him as a prophet (messenger of God, here Allah).

B: Siddhartha had enlightenment at the age of 35, after which he teamed up with 5 ascetics and formed a Buddhist movement. Buddha = "the enlightened one".

2) First public visibility

C: Sermon and healings through Jesus / crucifixion and resurrection event for the Jewish Passover / Pentecost experience of the disciples / mission through Paul

J:Abraham as the founder of monotheism, the belief in a single, invisible God (monotheism) wanders to Canaan.

I: He proclaimed these inspirations, wrote them in Ayat (verses of the Koran) and arranged them in suras (sections), which together form the Koran.

B: Originated from Hinduism

3) year

C: From around the year 25 AD.

J:Beginning of the second millennium before the turning point

I: In the year 609 in the close vicinity of Moham-med, more extensive consumption approx. 620

B: About 5th centuries BC on the Indian subcontinent

4) "religious founder"

C: Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ


I: Mohammed as the first prophet of Allah

B: Siddhartha Gautama, was born as a son around 563 BC. Born in a noble family in northern India.

5) Names of the followers

C: Christians


I: Muslims (Muslim / Muslim) ("who submits to God")

B: Buddhists

6) Number of followers today

C: In Germany approx. 50 million / approx. 1/3 of the world population = ~ 2.3 billion Christians

J:13.5-15 million Jews worldwide; approx. 200,000 Jews in Germany, 100,000 of them in communities

I: Approx. 4.5 million Muslims live in D. / approx. 1.5 billion (as of 2010) worldwide

B: Approx. 40,000 German Buddhists / approx. 450 million worldwide

7) Spread in the world

C: Europe 520 million, northern Russia and Asia 320 million, North and South America 740 million, central and southern Africa 380 million, Australia and from Asia especially the Philippines = Pacific region 23 million.

J:Most Jews in Israel and the United States; despite the comparatively small number of its confessors, it is an extremely lively and diverse world religion. Jewish communities can be found in all parts of the world today.

I: Faith with second most followers in the world. Countries with the largest proportion of the Muslim world population are: Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco.

B: Mainly in Asia, less so in Europe, North America and Australia

8) main directions

C: Roman Catholic / Eastern Churches: Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox / Evangelical

J:Orthodox and non-orthodox (progressive, reformed or liberal), with a conservative J.

I: Sunnis (approx. 74%), Alevis (approx. 13%), Shiites (approx. 7%), smaller groups Ahmadiyya, Sufi, Ibadis, etc.

B: Buddhism does not have a god, but an enlightened one. Alternative to Hindu polytheism and asceticism

9) Radical groups, number, occurrence

C: Fundamentalists in all Christian churches / numerically not definable / America, Europe etc.

J:Ultra-Orthodox J. demand a lifestyle that is strongly oriented towards the Torah, including gender segregation.

I: Since the 1960s (e.g. Sayyid Qutb) the influence of fundamentalist groups has increased. The best known at the moment are the “Islamic Jihad Union”, “Taliban”, “Al Qaida”, “Islamic State (IS)”, mostly referred to as Islamists, jihadists or Salafists.

B: No

10) "enemy images"

C: None (but for the fundamentalists: Islam, "unbelievers" = Christians who are not literally faithful to the Bible, allegedly "immoral", liberal Christians; Christians who have not received the baptism of faith (as adults))

J:No. Judaism does not regard it as a sin or an exclusion criterion for the conception of salvation by God if non-Jews and other peoples maintain their deviating religions or ideas of God.

I: Put simply, all unbelievers are enemies of Islam who need to be converted to Islam.

B: Buddhism is an extremely tolerant religion that calls for peace and nonviolence.

11) Organization / s

C: Catholic: hierarchically oriented world church with center in Rome (Vatican with Pope) / Orthodox: administratively independent churches with their own bishops, at the top the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, including other patriarchs of the self-governing churches / Evangelical: completely different non-hierarchical Organizational forms such as independent regional churches with bishops without teaching powers and synods (parliaments) / further associations on denominational levels (e.g. Protestant Church in Germany, Lutheran World Federation) / association worldwide: World Council of Churches = WCC of Churches / WCC)

J:Jewish communities are spiritually and legally led by a rabbi, general secular management by the community board.

I: Numerous umbrella associations and sub-associations such as Turkish-Sunni umbrella associations (largest association "Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institution for Religion"), associations of Arab Sunnis ("Islamic Community in Germany"), Association of European Muslims ("Association of Islamic Communities of Bosniaks in Germany" ).

B: Various forms of Buddhism are widespread

12) Authorities / Religious Offices / Influence

C: Catholic: Pope and episcopal hierarchy - church influence large / Orthodox: Patriarchs have influence in their church alongside synods, k. Ecumenical teaching authorization. Patriarch v. Constantinople / Evangelical: Synods have influence, bishops act representative.


I: No fixed organizational structure and supreme authority for all of Islam. In the past, the ulama (scholars of God and law with training in the traditional sciences of Islam) was recognized as the highest authority. / In the Islamic State (“IS”), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadu, who calls himself “Caliph”, is referred to as the highest earthly authority.

B: One of the best-known symbols of peacefulness and at the same time a tireless preacher in the name of Buddha is the Dalai Lama, who is very revered in his native Tibet.

13) entry

C: Through baptism

J:By birth to a Jewish mother or who has converted to Judaism

I: Pronouncing the testimony of faith in front of two witnesses.

B: Since Buddhism is presented more as a kind of philosophy, there are no big rules for entry and exit, not even with the monks.

14) exit

C: By declaring resignation to the registry office (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox)

J:Declare resignation at the responsible authority (exit is not possible from an inner-Jewish point of view)

I: Notification to the community council

B: See 13)

15) Central locations

C: Jerusalem, Rome, Istanbul


I: The Kaaba (cube, cube) = first house of worship, stands in the courtyard of the Haram mosque Masjid-ul-Haram in Mecca; Mecca (birthplace of Muhammad), Medina (grave site of Muhammad), many shrines in different places in the world, e.g. the sanctuary of Bibitheybat

B: Tibet is considered to be one of the central places of Buddhism.

16) Cult rooms / worship houses

C: Cathedrals, domes, churches, chapels


I: Mosques

B: Temples, prayer halls, stupa, pagoda, Buddhist monasteries

17) Central symbol / additional symbols

C: The cross of Jesus (actually: torture instrument. Through the resurrection, however, a sign of new life - in the world and beyond = signs of life) / dove / alpha and omega / X and P connected / fish / lamb / rainbow / ship / ear of wheat and grapes / Anchor with crossbar and heart

J:Davis star


I: Crescent moon or crescent moon

B:The Dharmachakra (Wheel of Teaching)



18) Belief goal / person / God / God's name

C: 1. Eternal life (begins with baptism!) In following Jesus Christ - even through death. 2. Living in God's love for others. ("You should love God and your neighbor as yourself.")

J:Judaism is a religion of action; every Jew is required to become God's partner - the perfection of the world through man; Keeping the seven Noachide commandments; Expectation of the Messiah as savior for all people / YHWH

I: “The important concept of Islam and the source of all its other principles and practices is the oneness of God (Tawheed). Islam teaches that there is a fundamental difference between Allah the Creator and what He created. The sky, the moon, the stars, the harmony and perfection in nature, the grace and beauty of the human body and the excellence of the human spirit, the change between day and night, the change of the seasons, the mystery of life and death - all these things indicate something that is bigger than them. "

B: The way of salvation - Nirvana

19) Concept of God / Image of God

C: God's name: God Hebrew Yahweh ("I am who I am."), As incarnate man: Jesus Christ. Still: it is a god! (Monotheistic) / God is a God in three Appearances (trinitarian): as a mysterious God, as the Son of Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit of Jesus. / "You shouldn't make yourself an image of God."

J:As a gracious and just federal partner of the chosen people of Israel, YHWH is at the same time the creator, preserver, judge and redeemer of the world

I: The Qur'an describes Allah (t) as perfect and constantly working (see Sura 2.255 in the Qur'an). He is ALMIGHTY, ALL KNOWING

B: There is no God, neither creator nor creation; the world was always there. It is a constantly changing combination of matter and spirit.

20) Authoritative writings

C: Bible (Old and New Testament = old and new covenant of God with his people; OT is the Bible of the Jews, NT is the new covenant through Jesus Christ

J:Hebrew Bible; schr. Doctrine that is laid down in the Torah and oral. Teaching, also: oral Torah, which is discussed in the valley mouth

I: Koran (messages and communications from Allah as revelations to people)

Sunnah (collection of reports (hadith) about actions and statements of Muhammad)

B: Tripitaka, the three-basket (1. Rules for monks / 2. Discourses (sutras) / 3. Commentary on the teachings)

21) Other sources of belief

C: No

J:Rabbinical writings

I: Traditions (sunna) and utterances (hadith) ascribed to the Prophet.

B: There are different schools within Buddhism, each with their own texts.

22) Where does God reveal himself to people?

C: In Jesus Christ, the human being and the Son of God.

J:The Jewish tradition sees Abraham as the founder of the belief in a single, invisible God. God continues this covenant with Abraham's son Isaac and his son Jacob, who has been called Israel (Yisrael) since the wrestling match on the east bank of the river Jabbok (Genesis 32, see also “The great invitation - blessings for Jacob) . It is also pointed out that an entire people witness God at the Cutting the covenant was on Mount Sinai.

I: Through the literal revelation to the Prophet Mohammed, as written in the Koran and brought to the attention of the Muslims.

B: In man himself

23) Rules and laws / liability

C: 1. The 10 commandments from the Old Testament (Exodus 20, 2-17) / 2. The double commandment to love neighbor and love for God, Mark 12, 29-31 / 3. The Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5, 1 / For Lutherans, doing what is good is the (automatic) fruit of a right faith and the confessional writings are the yardstick for interpreting the Bible. / General Christian values ​​can be found in various catechisms.

J:Talmund, this is historically divided into Mishnah and Gemara; Halacha, the Jewish law, is based on both

I: Sharia (religious law based on the Koran)

B: A distinction is made between commandments for laypeople and for monks; Main precepts: do not kill, do not steal, do not lie and do not drink alcohol

24) Ethical mottos / ideals / original creed

C: 1. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “If someone hits you on the right cheek, hold out the left one too.” “Love your enemies.” “Do not judge.” “Forgive how you have been forgiven.” / 2. Ideals: Faith, Love, Hope; Compassion; Justice and justice (especially for the poor and weak! See diakonia); forgiveness is central! / Original creed: “Jesus is the Lord!” / The Apostolic Confession, which is widely used in our country today, comes from Roman times and was probably created in Gaul in the 5th century

J:God gave all the laws to Moses on Mount Sinai, which he passed on to the Jewish people in the form of the Torah and the Talmud; Torah and Halcha are considered divine; Liberal Jews regard these words of God as less authoritative

I: "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet."

B: Buddha teaches to live the right life and to regard it as a duty, to accept and endure life, one cannot enjoy life.

25) Religious Customs / Eating and Drinking / Purity

C: Prayers on various occasions (time of day, food, on special occasions such as travel etc.) / acts of blessing / cross: crucifixion, stations of the cross / bells, incense / festivals of the church year (especially Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Thanksgiving and Lent) / lifelong customs: baptism Baptism reminder, confirmation or confirmation, wedding and wedding anniversaries, birthday, baptism day, name day, many death and farewell customs, many Catholic and Orthodox customs (holy water) / generally no restrictions on food and drink (no purity laws)

J:Food laws play a major role - kashrut refers to the ritual suitability of an object or living being ("kosher kitchen"); Alcohol is sometimes even required; In some cases, strict Torah-related dress codes are adhered to, but many do not dress in an explicitly Jewish way / physical cleanliness and other hygiene play a central role

I: Clothing regulations, greetings, cleaning before meal and prayer, killing of (permitted edible) animals in a special way (shafts), Ramadan festival (festival of breaking the fast), festival of sacrifice (Idul Adha), humiliation (sunna) as a recommendation of the prophet. / Eating and drinking are regulated in the Koran (in the part of the third category of human actions in Islamic jurisprudence "Haläl") and the Sunna. Among other things, eating pork and its by-products, blood and the consumption of intoxicating beverages (alcohol) is prohibited.

B: Since there are many different Buddhist directions, nothing can be generalized. But meditate, singing bowls, incense sticks, prayer wheels. Buddhists are vegetarians who do not kill or harm any living being.

26) Preparation when entering the cult room

C: No special preparation except removing headgear and silent prayer before sitting down - including dress codes, especially in southern churches

J:Wearing a kippa (skull cap), a tallit (prayer shawl) and (partly only men) also tefillin (prayer capsules)

I: Take off / wash shoes

B: Without shoes and with appropriate, covered clothing

27) Weekly Holiday

C: Sunday (on the first day of the week the death and resurrection of Christ is commemorated in the service and a divine day of rest is required for the good of man

J:Shabbat (Friday 20 minutes before sunset to Saturday evening with the appearance of three stars in the night sky)

I: Friday (partly because Adam was created on the 6th day of the week)

B: The Vesakh festival, Uposatha, Katina ceremony and Kambutsue

28) Central prayers / direction of prayer

C: Lament, please, thanks, adoration, intercession. Our Father (from Jesus); Psalms; Trisagion (orth.); Angelus (Catholic); Hourly and daily prayers / no prescribed direction or posture, should only not be public or demonstrative - and thus hypocritical

J:Three prayers a day with 19 supplications (parallel to the sacrificial service in the temple); Shema Yisrael ("Hear, Israel" - Creed)

I: Fathiha (the opening one), direction of prayer to Kabba in Mecca, creed Shahaadah

B: Prayer - Prayer is not to be equated with other beliefs. Meditation is more likely to take place.

29) Language in worship

C: National language (in the Catholic area seldom Latin mass)


I: Arabic

B: There is no Buddhist language, it depends on the country and place.

30) Image of man

C: Man is a creature and image of God, from which his dignity and the inviolability of human life are derived. The human being forms an inseparable unit of body, soul and spirit. The soul is considered immortal. Human beings have free will, social interaction and the ability to communicate and interact. Man has succumbed to sin / distance from God. It's not good per se. He tends to misbehave towards his fellow human beings, the environment and God. But he is also able to reflect on his behavior, to repent and turn around in the sense of an ethical lifestyle.

J:Man is an image of God.

I: According to the Koran, man was created in ideal form; he is Allah's representative on earth. In contrast to other living beings, humans have a soul that continues to exist after death and is responsible for the deeds committed by humans.

B: On the one hand original sin - on the other hand karma, the doctrine of self-responsible action and its consequences

31) How does a person achieve his salvation?

C: Christianity is one of the religions of salvation. Considerable differences between the denominations: Catholic and Orthodox - Only the church (instituted by Christ) mediates divine grace through its sacraments. Baptism is necessary for salvation. Reformatory - Baptism is necessary for salvation. But only through faith (Luther: sola fide) man wins his salvation. Reformation Anabaptists rely solely on the baptism of faith (adults). Baptism represents the decision for God, an inner conversion to God, which alone leads to salvation.

J:A life according to the Torah. This is considered the exclusive place of the salutary revelation of God in the form of his self-communication and the manifestation of his will. It was and is the way to salvation for the pious Jew, because in it God gave people the opportunity to live in accordance with his will. It is the basis of God's relationship with Israel as a people and gives him an understanding of the world as a space of God's revelation.

I: Muslims believe that humans are always able to choose between good and evil. He could do good and, by keeping the commandments, hope for God's favor and reward. However, when he violates God's commandments, he primarily harms himself (Sura 7:23).

B: 1. from suffering / 2. from the cause of suffering / 3. from happiness / 4. from the cause of happiness

32) Concept of the afterlife / after death

C: The hereafter is the kingdom of God, where eternal life is continued. There perfect knowledge arises in fellowship with God, Jesus Christ and the resurrected. The soul receives a new incorruptible body. There is a judgment in the hereafter where the good and bad of human life is revealed. The Bible describes the new life in the hereafter largely vaguely - and thus leaves room for personal ideas.

J:Life of the soul after death, resurrection of the dead, belief in the Messiah

I: After death, the person enters the hereafter, it is divided into paradise, hell and intermediate area (“Barzach”). To those whom the angels peacefully recall, the angels say: "Peace be upon you, enter paradise (as a reward) for what you have done." [Quran 16:32] and the soul gently leaves the body. Evil doers, however, are promised evil and shame at death: "And when you see them, when the wrongdoers are in death's gullies, and the angels stretch out their hands:" Surrender your souls! Today you will be rewarded with the torment of shame for what you have spoken wrongly against God and because you haughtily turned away from His signs. ”“ [Koran 6:93]

B: Not to be born again, but to nirvana

33) Can “the others” be saved?

C: That cannot be clearly clarified. If faith alone decides that, then the “others” remain in death. If God alone decides, then it could be different. Christians don't know that.

J:When they have led an ethical life

I: The Koran calls the Jews and Christians the "people of the scriptures", i.e. they are those who received divine revelations before the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are required to treat them with respect and justice and not to fight with them as long as they do not start hostilities or mock Islam. This respect and tolerance is not limited to Christians and Jews only. Nevertheless, because of the monotheistic and Abrahamic tradition, they have a special status among Muslims. Muslims hope that Christians and Jews will join them in worshiping the One God and submitting to His will.

B: always

34) Position of the woman

C: Because every person has his or her worth and dignity from God, all people have equal rights.

J:Orthodox: strict gender segregation with classic roles (women: household and upbringing / men: maintenance and religious studies); non-orthodox: equality that gives women every opportunity to get involved in the community

I: Before God, men and women are equal and equal, but have different rights and duties. It is forbidden for Muslim women to marry anyone of any other religion. It is the woman's responsibility to advise and support her husband in order to make joint decisions. The woman is the person who receives, carries, gives birth, breastfeeds and brings up children. This is their main job. Women in Islam are allowed to work (and to keep the money, since the husband alone has to provide for the family), they are entitled to inheritance, and have the right to education and training. They are also allowed to pray in mosques

B: Women are respected. You can become nuns, but you cannot lead a wandering life, you can go into nirvana, but you can never be reborn as Buddha

35) Relationship to the state / belief and politics

C: If the state develops a being that corresponds to the Christian image of man and enables democracy, freedom, justice, grace and conversion, a Christian can and should exercise his responsibility and duty in the state. The state is in itself an organizing element of God (Lutheran). If the state allows injustice, restricts freedom and impairs the dignity of people, the Christian has the duty to oppose injustice in word and deed - that is, to transgress laws. Faith and politics are interwoven. The standard is the well-being of the person - not the law! Laws must always serve the good of people!

J: Today's State of Israel is a secular (church-independent) democracy based on the Western model, but its domestic politics are still strongly religious in some areas.

I: Attempts are made again and again to introduce the Islamic principles (Sharia) as a political order, but so far failed not least because of the unrelated history of the Sharia. There is no basis for summarizing the political and religious order. Nonetheless, history shows that this is / was again and again the subject of the corresponding epoch.

B: Since Buddhism is more of a philosophy of life, no statements can be made about the place and politics.



All texts have been researched by members of the editorial team and make no claim to scientific accuracy.

Compiled by B. Ziemens (C), J. Wustmann / K. Heinsohn (J), St. Meier (I), N. Rosowski-Sprengala (B)

Christianity: possibly www.wikipedia.de

Judaism: www.dija.de; www.judentum-projekt.de; www.wikipedia.de; Michael Tilly's Judaism (published by Marixverlag);

The Judaism by Norman Solomon (published from the English original edition in the RECLAMS UNIVERSAL LIBRARY No. 18653)

Islam: http://www.islamisches-zentrum-muenchen.de; http://www.religionen-enthaben.de; http://www.fragenzumislam.de; http://www.dreikoenigsgemeinde.de; http://www.ead.de; http://wasistislam.info

http://www.enfal.de; http://www.bpb.de

Buddhism: www.wikipedia.de; www.buddhismus.de; Modern Buddhism (Volume 1-3 by Geshe Kelsang Gyato / free e-book)


Suffering in Different Religions - Why Believe When You Have to Suffer ?!


Countless people in this world suffer every day and when they wake up the next morning they often suffer even more. Many people are on the run or live in countries where terrible wars are raging, but we do not have to start from the "worst case scenario", many people in Germany suffer too - including far too many children. Many of these people are believers, they pray to a god or live according to a certain doctrine and yet they continue to suffer and there is no improvement in sight. So do we believe in a God who cannot or will not prevent our suffering? Isn't our benevolent and almighty God benevolent and almighty after all? This “problem” with God and the evils is by no means common to all people.

Anyone who doubts the existence of God does not have to deal with this problem and neither do those who are of the opinion that God or the gods are not interested in the fate of human beings. If one believes in the struggle between good and negative deities, then human suffering is also logical. But even if one is a follower of Hinduism or Buddhism {or of more recent essential ideas about reincarnation}, one does not have this problem, because in these religions suffering is understood as the result of guilt {karma}. But this problem does not arise in Islam either, because in this religion it is not possible for people to accuse God.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this problem arises in a drastic way: in these religions there is belief in a single God who, as the creator, is responsible for his creation. In addition, the attributes of omnipotence and all-goodness are attributed to him. Furthermore, the predicate of fundamental comprehensibility is ascribed to him, a completely hidden and therefore incomprehensible God could not be held responsible for the sufferings of the world. In these religions, people are also granted the dignity of being able to express themselves in acts of questioning, arguing or protesting against God.
You can see that the Jews and Christians are faced with a great problem to which there is no one solution, THE correct solution does not exist. Suffering can be understood as a punishment from God or as a kind of education in right faith. It can also be seen as a test. If one follows Aurelius von Augustine's idea that no nature is evil and the word evil only denotes the lack of good, then one also has a solution. Thomas Aquinas also gave a solution: “God neither wants evil to happen, nor does it not happen, but He wants to allow evil to happen. And that is something good. ”One can also say that where there is beautiful and good there must also be a contrast between bad and ugly. One can also see the solution in human free will. Humans only have “real” free will if they can choose evil and bad. God gives man this possibility.

Everyone has to find an answer to the question of where the suffering actually comes from and it doesn't matter which religion they belong to or whether they feel connected to atheism. It is only important that you deal with the topic in some way and look at it in a reflected manner.

(Text: Louisa Maria von Rönn / Image: “The Scream” Edvard Munch, 1895; Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Schrei)