8 julio, 2024

10 characteristics of religion

Some characteristics of religion They are the worship of gods or prophets, the beliefs in a system of norms and values, the symbology or the places of worship. Religion is a system of beliefs and moral norms that serve as a spiritual guide for the human being; the mythology that composes them and their main characteristics vary from culture to culture.

There are a large number of religions in the world, but the main ones – those with the most believers – are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Some historians have contributed ideas of how man could have had his first approaches to religion.

It is believed that it began with animism, a belief system of some indigenous peoples who consider the existence of a spiritual core in people, objects and places; others consider naturalism – the explanation of natural phenomena – as the origin.

However, given the diversity of religions, the existence of an established origin is a controversial idea. Despite everything, the truth is that religion has marked characteristics that have been shared throughout history and between cultures.

Characteristics Shared by Major Religions

At present we know the components of the different religions, their differences, their similarities and the guide of ideals and norms that they represent. These are some of them.

keep deeds

The main religions have scriptures that tell their mythology, their belief system and their ethical code.

In Christianity there is the Bible, a compilation of texts originally in Hebrew and Aramaic that talks about the creation and life of Jesus Christ.

Such is the importance of this book in the history of humanity, that it is the first book to be printed, has been translated into 2,454 languages, and is the best-selling literary piece in the world.

The Bible also talks about the commandments that the Christian of faith must abide by, similar to what happens in the Koran, the sacred scriptures of Islam that are the basis not only for religious performance, but also for Islamic culture.

Other religions that have texts are Hinduism (Shruti and Smiriti), Judaism (Torah) and Buddhism (stories about the life of Gautama Buddha).

They have gods and prophets

Another common feature between religions is the worship of one or more deities. This separates religions into two variants: monotheistic (they worship one God) and polytheistic (they worship a group of divinities).

In antiquity, religious systems explained natural phenomena –among other things– through divinities.

The ancient Greek and Mayan civilizations, for example, were polytheistic and had gods of thunder, rain, the sun, and the moon. Other religions, such as the Hindu belief system, have a large number of deities (believed to be millions).

Monotheistic religions have for their part a single divinity and a prophet in charge of preaching it on Earth, like God in Christianity, who is considered the creator of man and the universe.

The Christian religion affirms that God placed among men his son and prophet Jesus Christ to preach his word. In parallel, there is Allah in Islam and his prophet Muhammad.

They have a place of worship

One of the main icons of religiosity are its temples, places of worship whose architecture, site, and purpose vary between religious groups.

In the Jewish religion there are synagogues, whose characteristic position indicates that there are Jewish practitioners in the immediate surroundings.

For the Christian religion, these temples range from small churches to large cathedrals and culturally it is a symbol of refuge.

On the other hand, for followers of the Islamic faith, these places of worship are called mosques and are also used to hold social events.

What is there after death?

One of the bases of religiosity –in some cases– is the belief in a life after death. The Christian religion speaks of a place where one goes after death known as paradise (and its counterpart as hell).

The assigned place will depend on compliance with religious statutes and comply with the moral norms of Christianity. Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, on the other hand, handle the concept of reincarnation.

Man can return in different forms, which will be given according to his behavior in a past life.

In these religions the term «karma» is used, the force that controls the destiny of life; good karma or bad karma will influence the quality of future life.


The different religions of the world have symbols or emblems that identify them. In the past, when man declared wars to spread his religion, these symbols were a banner.

The Christian religion, with more than 2 billion believers, has a vertical cross alluding to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Islam is identified by a crescent moon and a star, a symbol that is also associated with the Ottoman Empire and appears on the flags of countries that used to belong to this region.

Judaism is represented by the Star of David, a symbol of the Hebrew cultures.

For its part, Hinduism is identified with the mantra “Om” written in the Indian syllabary Devánagari (ॐ), considered the primordial sound and the basis of divine songs.

moral guide

Among religions –as in philosophy– we can see a marked difference in statutes.

While Islam and Christianity manage a life system centered on others, Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist religions and spiritual systems profess a search for balance and natural balance, where the introspection of the person is valued more.

Spiritual guide

To direct the morals that the scriptures or the prophets say, these beliefs are directed by a spiritual guide. In Christianity this person has the role of pastor or priest, Judaism has rabbis and Hinduism has gurus.

In turn, there may be hierarchies that are established within an institution. For example, the Catholic religion has the Pope as its main ruler. Cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests and deacons would follow.

art and iconography

Finally, we must recognize that religion has been responsible for countless offerings and tributes by human beings.

There is a relationship between art and religion that dates back to prehistoric times, such as the paintings found in the Chauvet cave, part of a funeral rite.

Since then, man has created images related to religion and its icons, as Michelangelo did with the Christian iconography of the Sistine Chapel, or the relationship found between Arab architecture based on lattice geometric figures that represent perfection. and divinity of God in Islam.

Special dates

Each religion presents a series of days a year where some particularity of their religion or historical milestone of great importance to their followers is exalted. The most basic is the weekly holiday of the great monotheistic religions: Islam (Friday), Judaism (Saturday) and Christianity (Sunday).

In turn, there are other festivities of great relevance. We are talking about Ramadan for Muslims, Christmas for Christians or Makha Bucha for Buddhists.

The woman has a secondary role

A common bond that most religions have is the irrelevant role that women have in them. In general, they cannot participate in clerical life, they have limited certain activities and, of course, there are no great prophets.


Fernández, S. (2017) What are the main world religions? Travel Jet. Recovered from viajejet.com
Fordham, C. (2016) A Brief History of Religion. The Huffington Post. Recovered from huffingtonpost.com
Goldammer, A. & Moritz, K. (sf) Religious symbolism and iconography, Encyclopedia Britannica. Recovered from britannica.com
Pecorino, P. (sf) What is Religion?. Social Sciences: Philosophy of Religion. Retrieved from qcc.cuny.edu
N. (nd) Polytheism. Encyclopedia Britannica. Recovered from britannica.com

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