CHAPTER TWELVERELIGION: LOCATION, DIFFUSION, and CULTURAL LANDSCAPE
The major religions arose and diffused much later than the great language families.Hinduism, the oldest religion, emerged long after the First Agricultural Revolution.Christianity appeared during the Roman Empire and Islam was founded several centurieslater.
HINDUISMHinduism emerged without a prophet or a book of scriptures, and without evolving abureaucratic structure. Hinduism appears to have originated in the region of the IndusValley more than 3,000 years ago.
Hinduism’s fundamental doctrine is karma,which has to do with the transferabilityof souls and arranged in a hierarchy. Asoul moves upward or downward accordingto the individual’s behavior in the presentlife. All souls, animal and human alike,participate in this process.Reincarnation is the cornerstone ofHinduism. How does this relate to thetreatment of animals?
India’s Ganges River is considered holy water by Hindu pilgrims – they believethat the Ganges springs from the hair of Shiva, one of the main deities.
Considered holy water, many Indians cremate their loved ones on the banks of the GangesRiver.
Because the Ganges River is so heavily used for religious purposes and everyday purposes,it has become dangerously polluted, especially as India’s population continues to increase.
Hinduism’s doctrines are closely bound to India’s caste system, for castes themselvesare steps on the universal ladder. Characteristics of the caste system include: 1. A very rigid social system 2. People are born into a caste for life 3. Each caste has special rules about work, diet, marriage, and social behavior 4. The caste system has been a hinderance on India’s development 5. Despite being officially outlawed by the Indian constitution, the caste system endures, especially in rural areas. Hinduism would have to change before the caste system would change
Even the great prestige of national hero, Gandhi, could notcompletely eliminate the religious-based tradition of theHindu caste system.
Arranged marriages are an integral part of Indian culture, and social caste is the keycomponent considered.
Who are the “untouchables?” In what parts of India are they most discriminatedagainst?
Explain the evolution of Sikhism. How isit different and/or the same from/asHinduism?“Hinduism is more than a faith; it is a wayof life” Explain.
The primary religious conflict inIndia involves Muslim separatistsin the northern Indian region ofKashmir fighting against theIndian govt.This conflict dates back to Indianand Pakistani independence in1947.Periodically, this violence bringsIndia & Pakistan to the brink ofwar (both possess nuclearweapons).
The history for Jews is filled with upheavals. Jews ultimately established theirheadquarters in Jerusalem, but then fell victim to a series of foreign powers.The Romans destroyed their holy city in 70 A.D., at which time the Jews weredriven away and scattered (diaspora).During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, persecuted Jews from Europe beganreturning to their ancestral land in large numbers. WHO HAS THE RIGHT TOPALESTINE?Two world wars would push this dilemma to the background, but it would return asan international crisis following WWII.
Zionism, a belief that Jews should not be absorbedinto other societies, becomes a driving forcefollowing the atrocities of the holocaust. AfterWWII, Jews flood into Palestine and world sympathysupports them.This ideology of zionism will culminate with thecreation of Israel, a Jewish state, in 1948, whichremains a flashpoint of Arab/Israeli violence to thepresent.
Explain the internal divisions ofJudaism. Approx. how many Jewishadherents are there?With such small numbers, comparativelyspeaking, why is Judaism considered aworld religion?
CHRISTIANITYChristianity shares some common roots with Judaism. A crucial event for Christianitycame in the year 312, when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and madeChristianity the Roman state religion. Identify the three major branches.
The dissemination of Christianity occurred as a result of contagious diffusion andrelocation diffusion. What phenomenon accounted for the relocation diffusion?
ISLAMIslam is an important unifying element that defines a culture region.
As was noted in chapter 11, Islam is deeply split between two primary factions (groups):the majority sunnis and the minority shia (shiites). It is a rivalry that often leads toviolence, as the war in Iraq demonstrates.
Although sunnis and shiites share more in common than not, there are six ways to tellmembers of the two groups apart. To non-Muslims, the differences appear insignificant,but these differences can lead to violence.
One of the significant “five pillars” is the annual hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca.Can you name the other pillars?
Muslims from around the world converge on Mecca, providing a significant economicboost, but creating a host of challenges for the Saudi govt., the guardian of Islam’sholiest city.
The hajj is an intense five day experience which features a 12 mile journey to Mt Arafat,where pilgrims spend a day of religious reflection.
The Saudi govt. tightly controls access to Mecca for non-Muslims.
Are outsiders allowed into Mecca? Are the majority of Muslims found in the MiddleEast? How does everyone begin their pilgrimage? What promises do they make?
Describe the pilgrimage. How many days does it last?
Islamic law is the foundation of Arab nations’ legal codes and cultural taboos. It isvery traditional and rigid, especially for women..
These Islamic laws are preserved byrequiring strict adherence, especiallyamongst the young.In today’s increasingly interdependentworld, do you think that many youngMuslims might resist these laws?Islamic laws can be a source of frictionbetween some Middle Eastern countriesand western governments.
Muslims are divided over interpretations of Islamic law and relations withthe West. Many Muslims dislike/fear social components of western culture,while at the same time coveting western technology.
With greater western contact, comes greater exposure to western technology andpolitical/social practices. In most Muslim countries in the Middle East, there is a growingtug-of-war between these outside forces and the forces of traditional Islam.