Cohabitation is defined as the act of living together between a man and a woman before marriage. It describes the relationship of a man and woman who are sexually active and share a household despite not being married to each other. According to the Christian faith which the Catholic Church follows, sexual relationship is only reserved for men and women who have been married. Any involvement in sexual intercourse before marriage is thus, regarded as sinful and against the Christian teachings. Cohabitation is a sign of disrespect for the sacrament of marriage, the sacredness of sexual intercourse and human dignity.
The Catholic Church, just like other Christian societies cares for its members the way a parent cares for his or her beloved son or daughter. Having the knowledge that cohabitation increases the chances of failure in marriage; the church is interested in offering protection and preservation of happiness. Besides, there are quite a number of men and women today who simply start cohabitating based on physical attraction. They do not evaluate the reasons they give for justification of their decisions.
According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, every sexual act is intended by God to express love, commitment and openness to life in the gift of marriage. Engaging in sex outside marriage is an immoral practice that does not express the intentions of the Creator. Cohabitation passes a false message that the couple is committed yet they are not because that can only be shown through marriage. Cohabitation is more like pretence that is highly disregarded by God; it is an act of cowardice. Two people who are choosing to cohabit are afraid of making life commitments to live with each other as husband and wife even though they convince themselves that they are one.
According to the catechism of the Catholic Church, some couples claim that they have a right to live together if they intend to get married later on. Even though the couple may be sincere in their decision, the Catechism stresses that human love is incompatible with trial marriages. Cohabitation is more like standing in the middle in order to first weigh out options so that if things fail to go according to your expectations, you can easily jump ship. God does not require people who test the waters since in the process; we break a lot of laws that include engaging in sexual intercourse among others.
Unlike the marriage covenant, cohabitation is a temporary arrangement that is compared to a business deal that can either succeed or fail. In fact, studies that have recently been conducted on cohabitation show that most of those who are involved end up in heartaches. As much as the Catholic Church teaches that people who are interested in getting married need to take some time to know each other well through courtship, it does not advocate for cohabitation. However, cohabiting couples cannot be denied the chance to marry in the Catholic Church.
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Buddhist Views on Marriage and Divorce
In Buddhism, marriage is regarded as a personal and secular affair, and not a religious duty as it is in other religions. Buddhist teachings reveal that marriage is a social convention and personal concern that is instituted by man for his own happiness and wellbeing. Besides, it further points out that man institutes marriage to distinguish the human society from animal life and also maintain order and harmony in the procreation process. Despite this, Buddha still gave several teachings on marriage and even declared in the Blessing Sutra that, ‘’to care for one’s wife…This is the highest blessing.’’
Even after a man and a woman come together in marriage, Buddha outlines the proper way in which the two are required to relate to each other as husband and wife. In the Sigalovada Sutra, Buddha declares that, ‘’in five ways should a wife… be ministered to her by her husband: by respect, by courtesy, by faithfulness, by handing over authority to her (in the home), by providing her with adornment. In five ways does the wife act in sympathy with him: her duties are well performed, she knows hospitality to kin of both, is faithful, watches over the gods he brings, and shows skill and artistry in discharging all her business.’’
Since marriage is not viewed as sacred duty in Buddhism, monks do not preside over wedding ceremonies. However, the can bless the couple during or after the ceremony has been conducted. In certain instances, they can even perform the blessing without any ceremony. There are no religious laws in Buddhism that compels a person to be married, to remain a bachelor or to lead a life of total chastity. Neither are there any laid down rules that Buddhists must produce children. The religion gives each individual the freedom to choose for himself the avenue to pursue with regards to marriage.
Buddhism does not prohibit divorce; however, the necessity would barely arise if the Buddha’s injunctions were followed strictly. Men and women are at liberty to separate in case they are unable to agree after marriage. Divorce is preferable in order to avoid living miserable family life for a long period of time. Buddha urges old men to avoid having young women as their spouses since the two are most likely incompatible.
According to most Buddhists, divorce can be viewed as an integral step towards self-knowledge. Just in the same way that the religion views marriage as an individual choice, divorce is also regarded as a choice that one can make if they feel that they are unhappy in the married life. Buddhism points out that man and woman who have been living as wife and husband are free to divorce on grounds that the first, third or fourth precepts (killing, lying and sexual misconduct) are broken and also where the amount of suffering arising from the marriage becomes disproportionate. If the husband and wife are content that divorce would alleviate that suffering, they are free to pursue the course.
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Islam is a religion that holds its values and teachings on all junctures. Many of the things that Muslims do on daily basis are governed or based on the writings of the Quran and the prophet Mohammad’s Sunnah. Islam and homosexuality is an issue that has been raising eyebrows now and then. Debates on whether homosexuality should be legalized have been making headlines on daily basis. Fortunately, Islamic views on homosexuality clarify everything. Sexual behavior towards a partner of same sex or gender is not only a sin, but a crime under the Islamic law.
The Islamic Sharia law is extracted from both the Quran and the Muhammad’s Sunnah [found in the Hadith and Sira]. Islamic study of laws and principles on which laws are based is an expansion of the laws contained within them by Islamic jurist. Thus, Muslims see them as laws of the Allah. Homosexuality under the same laws is a sin and crime against God. Views on homosexuality vary within the four leading schools of Sunni jurisprudence these days. Nevertheless, they all agree that homosexuality is worthy severe consequences.
In the common Hanafi doctrine, homosexual is first punished through harsh beating and if the involved individuals repeat the act, death penalty is worthy. When it comes to the Shafii philosophy, the homosexual receives the same punishment as adultery, if married or fornication, if not married. This means that, if the homosexuals are married, they will be stoned to death or be wiped 100 times if not married.
Another school of thought based on the Quran and various Hadith, hold the opinion that the homosexual should be stoned to death or be thrown from a high building as the best punishment for the act. Scholars maintain the belief that, these individuals should also be imprisoned until death. Another view on homosexuality is that between the two males, the active member should be lashed 100 times if unmarried and killed if married, while the passive partner should be killed regardless of his marital status.
Many champions of the rights of homosexual shift the blame on the harsh treatment of the involved persons onto “the adoption of European Victorian attitudes towards new westernized elite”. However, all the support for the act falls in deaf ears. Within the Islamic school of thought, this attitude was instigated by Prophet Muhammad and it is here to stay as all mainstream Muslims find it to be a perfect example [Uswa Hasana]. Hence, many Muslims find this harsh treatment against homosexuality as justified.
Many Islamic leaders have also condemned homosexuality in history. For instance, Shaykh Muhammad Salih-Al-Munajid claimed that homosexuality is the key cause of diseases such as AIDS and related conditions that affected mankind. Even for the small percentage of Muslims living in more-developed countries see homosexuality as abominable and unacceptable in the society. A Gallup survey carried in 2009 showed that British Muslims have zero tolerance to homosexuality. In accord to the Zogby International survey taken from American Muslims on 2001 shows that, a massive 71% was against the idea of allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.
The ongoing harassment of homosexuals by Muslims globally rarely makes it to the mainstream newsrooms. The free world has been silenced by the fear of offending Islamic sensibility and the population opposing this act. Many apologists have come out and aired their views on the issue, but it remains a crime and vile in many Islamic countries.
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Hinduism Views on Homosexuality
The terms lesbians and gays have been making news on daily basis. Whether there are apologists all over in the streets in many parts of the world or its news penalties on individuals who have violated certain rules has become a way of life. Homosexuality has always been seen as a sin from the religious perspective. Hinduism is one of the common religions that have contributed a lot on how many cases of homosexuality should be handled. Views on homosexuality have also differed among many people in the world.
The issue of homosexuality in Hinduism is quite contentious among Hindus in countries where sexual behavior towards partners of same sex and gender is generally accepted. The Hinduism views on homosexuality are diverse and vary greatly because the accepted Hindu religion writings do not clearly mention homosexuality. Because of the many types of religious life, homosexuality matter has become quite complex among Hindus. For instance, the twice-born Hindus are forbidden from any homosexual acts.
Surprisingly, the legendary Kama Sutra asserts that homosexuals should engage and enjoy the act for their own sake and as one of the arts. Hence, Hindu evaluation of homosexuality depends on the context. All in all, there is a complex history on homosexuality in India. The ancient texts like Rig Veda [1500BC], effigies and vestiges clearly depict sexual acts between women as revelations of a feminine world where sexuality was based on fertility and pleasure.
There have been unmatched variances between Hindus as to where homosexuality is an accepted behavior. The debated has always been immense and based on the background of Hinduism’s teachings on love, marriage and sex. In Hinduism, love is depicted as an external force, devotion between two people whether romantic or nonsexual. On top of this, erotic desire of kama in Hinduism was believed as one of the most legal pleasures of the world. Notably, this did not allow Hindus to engage on lustful behaviors.
Premarital sex is disregarded in Hinduism while extramarital sex is illegal. Sex is promoted in the context of heterosexual where a couple is able to express its desires without any societal shortcomings. In today’s India, transgendered men “Hijras” are known to have sex with men. They are religiously identified as a separate third sex where many have to undergo ritual castration. In India, a man who penetrates a Hijras is not seen as or defined as gay. In Kama Sutra, sexual acts involving homosexuals are acceptable in some backgrounds and not in others.
Many opponents of homosexuality in Hinduism argue that romantic love is only natural between opposite sex and it is not possible for two men or women to experience similar kind of love. Since romantic love is experienced between men and women, any acts of homosexual are due to lust and lust is wrong. Marriage in Hindu community plays great roles and Prajaa [the offspring of perpetuation of one’s family] is one of great roles. For homosexuals, it is hard to procreate after marriage. Premarital and extramarital sex is wrong and so homosexual cannot marry and so they should not engage in any sexual acts.
For the supporters of homosexuality they argue that nowhere in Hindu sacred texts is romantic love excluded to all but man and woman. There are no religious grounds to make a statement to the contrary. Due to the fact that homosexuals can experience romantic love, homosexual relationships are all not products of covetousness. Supporters of homosexuality also argue that Prajaa is not a key factor in Hindu marriages; it can also be interpreted in ways that do not involve procreation. At last, proponents also argue that, sexual expression within a loving affiliation is spurred by Hinduism as it is not an expression of lust. Hence, homosexuals should be allowed to enjoy and express their love sexually.
Indeed, homosexuality is a conflicting issue in Hinduism, but the involved parties should come up with great ways to tackle this issue at hand. Both Hindu leaders and religious leaders need to lay proper framework on solving this issue on Hindu perspective but not by following social customs blindly and copying the other religions.
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Christian Views on Euthanasia
Euthanasia is an issue that has been creating a lot of debates among the religious communities. It refers the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to alleviate pain or suffering. Laws on euthanasia vary in each country and religion. This act can be categorized as voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. Since 2006, euthanasia has been one of the most active areas of research. Christian views on euthanasia are diverse and vary greatly.
The Christian perspective on the subject of euthanasia or assisted death is straightforward. Many Christians believe in blessedness of life from the moment of birth until natural death. There more than 60 passages of scripture in the bible that relate to the importance and sanctity of life. “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is one of the common passages of the scripture in the holy book. Christians believe that God is the give and take of life, but it should not be done under the will of man. For many Christians euthanasia is not the best way to end life and they are against it regardless of the pain or suffering one may have endured.
The bible does not specifically mention about euthanasia, but it addresses issues that related to it closely. Christians have used the bible to make judgments on euthanasia. Many of the Christian views on euthanasia are based on a number of things, and they include;
- Life is a gift from God- Christian’s belief that it is God who gives and takes life and death and life are part of the life processes created by God. Therefore, every person in the world should respect them and no human as the right to take life another person or his or her own life.
- Human beings are valuable and made in the image of God- Man possess an intrinsic dignity and value, because he was created by God in his own image. To propose an euthanasia for an individual is to judge that life and the individual concerned are not worthwhile. No one should ask for assisted dying because no one has the right to value anyone or himself worthless.
- The process of dying is spiritually important and should not be perturbed- Christians believe that the time before death is quite imperative. Many think that it is wrong to interrupt the process of dying as you will also disrupt the soul or spirit from reaching towards God.
- All human being’s lives are equally valuable- Christians believe in the value of human lives. Even patients, who are in persistent vegetative state, still remain to be human beings like any other whether healthy or seek. No person should treat any other as worthless and view them as “would be comfortable dead”. Even people with mental handicaps are valuable like any other healthy person.
There also some exceptions on the opinions that we have on euthanasia. Christians need to respect every human being and if we respect a person, we should also respect their decisions to end life. Possibly, we should accept their rational decision to object any burdensome, expensive or discouraging treatment that may even offer a week to live.
Regardless of the situation or circumstances one may be in, Christians should invariably oppose euthanasia. We should offer the best care to those suffering, let them have opinion on many issues affecting community and face death and dying with honesty and support as community by helping them prepare for death and meet Gods will
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Buddhist Views on Sex
Sex education is an area that has been receiving a lot of airplay and being discussed in openness. However, many wonder, what views do Buddhists have on sex. Like many other religions, Buddhism has its own take on sex or sexual conduct. Buddhists have the third precept; for avoiding sexual misconduct or not to misuse sex. Nevertheless, for the laypeople, the early scriptures are hazy about what sexual misconduct sets up.
During the monastic laws, many monks and nuns abided to the many rules of the Vinaya-pitaka [a Buddhist collection of texts]. For instance, from the text, monks and nuns who engage in sexual intercourse are expelled automatically from the order. In case of any seductive comments towards a woman from a monk, the community of monks is supposed to meet and address the wrongdoing. Monks should also shun appearance of indecency by being alone with a woman while nuns should not let men touch, fondle or rub anywhere between the knees and collarbone [sexual misconduct]. Currently, many Asian schools abiding to Buddhism still rely on Vinaya-pitaka for guidance except in Japan.
Buddhists in Japan have a different perspective on sex. It all started with Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu school of Japanese Pure Land. He married and authorized the priests in the school to marry. Many centuries later, marriage for Japanese Buddhist monks was not a law; it became a not-occasional exception. During the Meiji era, Buddhist monks and priests [but not nuns] were allowed to make their own decisions on whether to marry or not. In japan today, monastic celibacy is the in-thing in the school of Buddhism.
Buddhism shows us that it is easy to release our greed and selfishness to do anything and become more kind and compassionated. This leads to growth and development of a moral society and people. Hence, we are able to shun any sexual ways that can disregard and exploit other people in the society. To Buddhist, sex is a core expression of what craving [tanha] brings to suffering [dukkha] in its train and so we should be able to bring it into control. There are many other sexually related areas that Buddhists look at while discussing sex. These include;
- Homosexuality- There are diverse views and opinions about homosexuality. Buddhism teaches us that sensual enjoyment and desire are hindrances to enlightenment. There are many anti-homosexual texts in schools of Buddhism. In some teachings Buddhism, discourages sex between men and men, but not between women.
- Marriage- Many religions like Buddhism draw a clear line around the issue of marriage. For some religion sex outside marriage is uncouth and immoral. Sex inside the marriage line is good for the couple. Buddhism draws its teachings on sex between couples who love each other and morally whether married or not. On other hand, marriages can be abusive and lead to separation, divorce and suffering of innocent children.
- Desire- Buddhism provides loads of manuscripts on desire. For instance, the second noble truth teaches us that suffering is a tanha [craving] and it should not be stifled but controlled aptly. Our passions should not control our lives.
Sex is a powerful force that can make us happy or create a lot of suffering. According to Buddhism we should avoid sexual misconduct and leave according to the Buddhist teaching of better social norms. We have to condemn any sexual activities that may influence our morals or religious affiliations.
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Buddhist Views on Marriage
Buddhism is a way of practice and spiritual growth and development that leads to an insight into the true nature of actuality. Buddhist practices are means of changing oneself to develop distinctive qualities of wisdom, kindness and awareness on all you do. Buddhists have different views on way of life and many experiences that we go through on daily basis. In Buddhism, marriage is regarded as a personal, individual concern and not a religious responsibility. In a sense, they consider marriage as a sexual affair and not a religious rite or sacrament.
Marriage is a social bond, an institution created by man for happiness and well-being, that differentiates humans from animal life and maintain coherence and order towards procreation. Many of the Buddhist manuscripts are do not speak much on monogamy and polygamy the congregations are always advised to keep one wife. In a sense, the Buddha did not lay any rules regarding marriage life, but there is plenty of advice regarding marriage and how to live happily in married life.
There are exceptional and distinctive references from the Buddha’s sermons to rely on all the time. For instance, it is wise and advisable for a man to be faithful and not to be sensual and run after every other woman. The Buddha realized that, the key cause of many failed marriages is due to man’s involvement with other women. Man must realize these difficulties and tribulations that he has to go through to maintain and keep his wife and family happy.
Buddhist views on marriage are quite substantial. Interestingly, Buddhism marriage is regarded as a personal and individual apprehension and not a religious rite. There are a no set rules that compel an individual to get married, remain a bachelor or restraining from sexual activities [there are no vows of chastity]. It is not written anywhere that Buddhist should have a certain number of children or control the number of children a couple intends to have. Buddhism treasures the right of freedom and allows an individual to decide for himself on all issues pertaining marriage.
Many may be wondering; why monks do not marry? The key reason to such decisions is to be of service to the mankind and monks have to choose a lifestyle that includes celibacy. Many who condemn the worldly life choose to keep away from married life. Surprisingly, although Buddhist monks do not celebrate a nuptial, the do perform religious services to bring many people together and bless the couples.
On issues concerning marriage like divorce or separation, Buddhism does not prohibit the stand the couples take, but the necessity would arise to follow the Buddha restrictions. Man and woman must have the freedom to separate if they are not at peace. Every relationship is made or built under commitment to support and protect each other. Guatama Buddha never spoke in contrast to marriage life, but he pointed out the many miseries encountered in marriage.
Marriage creates these bonds in many families and acts as a fine basis for development and growth of culture. In accord to Buddhist teachings or views on marriage, a good wife should love, trust, fulfill family obligation, be faithful, care for the children and be sweet to her husband. While the husband should be tender, social, protect loyal, honest, offer moral support and great companionship. Marriage is partnership and the two individuals involved should let each other to grow in love and friendship. According to Buddhism, marriage is all about understanding and respecting each other privacy and beliefs. A successful marriage is a two-way traffic.
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Buddhist Views on Homosexuality
Buddhism differs from other religions in one way or another. Many people have diverse opinion on what Buddha had in mind regarding many things in his manuscripts, especially on issues affecting today’s societies and nations in general. A lot of religious people would like to know more on Buddhism views on homosexuality- an issue that has been creating a lot of debates even on global platforms. Homosexuality as a sexual orientation has been deemed as a vile and vice that no one should neither talk about nor indulge in. However, Buddhists offer better and profound views on the issue.
From the scientific view of things, there are no practical evidences and facts as to why a person develops and growths with particular sexual orientations. However, experts basing their evidences on biological theories, pinpoint genetic factors or the early uterine environs as the mainstay factors towards such behaviors. Buddhism teaches and expects from its followers a certain impeccable ethical behavior and all the time. In Buddhism terms like five precepts and tanha are common and issue like homosexuality will undoubtedly break one of the precepts. Those Buddhism followers who are into homosexuality- sex between people of the same sex and gender will definitely break the third precept.
Homosexuality is not a new thing in India. It is mentioned on the Vinaya [Monastic rule] and condemned. It is mentioned along with a wide range of sexual behaviors that contravene the rule that expect monks and nuns to practice and enjoy celibacy. By way of the monastic rule, sexual behavior whether with a member of the same sex or opposite sex where body organs enter each other’s orifices in the body is punishable without any pity. If caught indulging in any sexual behaviors such as masturbation or intercrural sex, expulsion is a no go for punishment but the offenders must confess before the monastic society.
Buddhism questions the many moral and ethics that many societies abide to. Buddhists have been able to develop morals based upon compassion and reason, but not on old-fashioned ways of life. From the many Buddha ethics, there are several types of unskillful sexual behaviors that are mentioned in the teachings and writings. Buddha says while practicing the Third Precepts, it is wise to avoid sexual misconduct with girls under their parents care, unmarried women, female prisoners or any other person engaged to another.
Homosexuality is not openly mentioned in Buddhism, but it is explored and evaluated the same way as heterosexuality. In the lay Buddhism, sexual act was an expression of love, loyalty, respect and warmth regardless of ones gender or sex. In this context, if one indulges in any unskilled sexual act regardless gender or sex, this is an offense. Therefore, any principles and ethical rules that are used to evaluate heterosexual relationships will also be used to evaluate a homosexual affiliation also.
In some instances, Buddhism advices against certain sexual behaviors as it is wrong on the ethical point of view as they put the involved individuals at the odds with social norms or mores or lead to legal actions. Hence, refraining from such behaviors will provide freedom from anxiety and embarrassment caused by the consequences of such actions. In a sense, the homosexual has to decide whether he or she is going to agree to what the community expects or try to change the attitude and opinion of the public on their actions.
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Buddhist Views on Euthanasia
Euthanasia can be characterized as voluntary euthanasia and is legal in U.S and Canada, non-voluntary and is illegal in all nations or as involuntary euthanasia and it is considered murder. Religion provides various views many issues affecting people globally. Buddhism for example offers different views on euthanasia. The debate about euthanasia with the Buddhist circles is tentative and there is an apparent reticence on the issue.
Japan Buddhist view death as not the end of life, but a transition in another state, mostly thought to be 49 days, intermediate between life in this body and life in the next. Many Buddhist are reluctant to dismiss a body as “dead” before its loss of warmth and reflexes are not based on a few of personal extinction, but as a Buddhist view of the common components of the life process.
Buddhist value the peace of mind and honor of life over the length of life. On the other hand, a samurai will often commit suicide on battlefield or court to preserve their dignity in death. Other commoners choose to community suicide in order to obtain a better life in the Pure Land [Heaven]. Many of the samurai suicides were morally comparable to euthanasia. Today, many prefer mercy killing in order to avoid an inevitable death at the hands of others like diseases or to escape a long period of pain without being a fruitful.
Buddhists are not undivided in their view of euthanasia and the writings or teachings of the Buddha do not solve this issue clearly. Most Buddhists are against the involuntary euthanasia, but their position on voluntary euthanasia is less clear. Here a few Buddhist view on euthanasia;
- Different states of minds- The most common opinion is that voluntary is wrong. This is interpreted by the fact that one’s mind is in a bad or compromised state and that one has allowed physical suffering to root for mental suffering. Meditation and proper use of pain killing drugs should aid avoid mental pain and no longer think of euthanasia. Buddhists also argue that helping someone end his or her is likely to put you in a bad mental state and this can also be shunned.
- Avoiding harm- Buddhism places stress on no-harm radar and avoid contemplating ending life. Buddhist teachings are against voluntary euthanasia and there are certain codes of Buddhist monastic laws that forbid it.
- Euthanasia is suicidal- looking at voluntary euthanasia as a form of suicide also makes this issue more complicating. Buddha showed tolerance of suicide in two monk cases. Due to the fact that these were monks, this makes the difference as the way life ends had a reflective effect on the way of the new life will commence. So a person’s state of mind at the time of death is essential. Hence, euthanasia and suicide is for people who have gained certain enlightenment and the rest of people should elude it.
From a Buddhist perspective, it is sometimes painful to watch those we love die in silence for adamant pain and suffering. Each person as created his or her destiny by his or her past karma or actions. Compassion is an important value of Buddhism teaching and a Buddhist can use it as a justification for euthanasia because the person in anguish is alleviated of pain. However, it is wicked to embark on the any course action aimed to destroy human life irrespective of the individual’s reasons for such decisions.
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Sikhism Perspective of Life after Death
Sikhism perspective of life after death holds that people should live their lives without worrying about afterlife. Instead, they should focus on their ethical actions as well as piety in the current life. Mukti or liberation is a metaphor for best results that are achievable in afterlife. Sikhs envision this as the finding of unification with creator in his court.
Being ethical or doing well in a cycle of death and birth or going and coming or even reincarnation has led to human life that has to use this opportunity in reaching divine court. This implies that Sikh beliefs combine the idea of reincarnation that brings life to human with that of afterlife or paradise-like divine court of the creator. As such, since death offers this opportunity, individuals should not fear death.
Conception of Guru Nanak was that regardless of religious allegiances, worldly actions will be accounted for through a divine process that is beyond the understanding of humans. If an individual has lived a good life whether non-Sikh or Sikh has nothing to worry about or fear. The exact location or picture of divine court is just a moot point in the thought of a Sikh, for pious and ethical living, itself is an end. Worldly court of Guru was compared to Court of Kartar by the writers of the time of Guru. Individuals who sought protection of Guru selflessly got shelter in the current world and life after.
Liberation cannot be achieved by renouncing early pleasures of the world. It can only be achieved by simply seeking Kartar by living a societal and productive life. This implies that family life is important feature in achieving liberation because it is a commitment to social and ethical living. The soul will be liberated by divine grace. This comes with performance of meritorious actions and ethical living which prepares an individual to welcome or receive this grace. This grace is the ultimate and it is bestowed by creator only.
A Sikh servant that lived in the early 1600s, Bhai Gurdas notes that there are actions that are particularly meritorious in the spiritual path. Meritorious implies literally faithful or saphal. While patronage systems in some religious traditions equate merit with the donations for the religious establishment, Bhai Gurdas notes that teaching another person or Sikh how they should read the scripture is meritorious just like funding golden temples, since holy congregations offer regular opportunities for Sikhs to listen to and apply the scripture, pilgrimages are not considered necessary.
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Sikhism Beliefs about God
Sikhism beliefs about God hold that there is an existence of an uncompromisingly monotheistic God as symbolized by the Ik Onkar. This God is the one Creator and central tenet of the Sikh philosophy. Nevertheless, Sikhs believe that this Creator is an all pervasive being and the sole truth and that he is the only truth. All creation is an illusory and realization that the entire creation is just one is the route that leads to enlightenment.
Guru Granth Sahib stated that “Toohe Moohe, moohe toohe, antar kaisa?” this translates to mean, “You are in me, I am in you, what is the difference?” This idea is similar to that of Buddhists that all individuals are enlightened and that humans just need to realize this fact. It is perceivable and knowable to any individual that is ready to dedicate their energy and time to becoming perceptive of their own persona.
The Creator or God has been described by the gurus in different ways in hymns that are included in Guru Granth Sahib, which is the holy Sikhism scripture. The oneness of deity is highly and consistently emphasized in the entire scripture. Mool Mantar provides a description of the Creator. First passage of Guru Granth Sahib which is the basic formula of Sikhism faith provides this description.
It describes God as One Creator whose name is the Truth and He only is the Creator, Beyond Hatred, Beyond Fear, Beyond Time and Death, Self-Illuminated, Unborn, the Grace of Guru. According to Guru Arjan, the Creator is past or beyond any form or color. However, he can be seen as an elephant that has eight arms. The Lord transcends the entire world and the scriptures of west and east yet he is manifest clearly. Ultimate reality knowledge is not the main issue. It occurs by revelation of ultimate reality via grade or nadir and by mystical experience or anubhava.
Guru Nanak observes that the Creator is not accessible via intellect or via mere scholarship or even cleverness in arguments. The Creator is met at time and chances that he pleases via devotion. Guru Granth refers to Creator as the Father or He. However, this is because Granth was written in the North Indian using Indo-Aryan languages which are a mixture of the Hindi dialects and Punjabi that do not have neutral gender. Because Granth refers to God as being indescribable, then God does not have a gender according to the beliefs of Sikhism about God.
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Judaism Perspective of Life after Death
Judaism perspective of life after death holds that death of the earthly life is does not mark an end to human existence. However, Judaism is considered ambiguous when it comes to the issue of life after death. The soul’s immortality, the resurrection and world to come are prominent features in Judaism. Ambiguity comes in when it comes to the logistics of how these things will happen and how they are all related.
Basically, Judaism is mainly focused on the life on earth at the moment instead of the afterlife. It does not provide much dogma concerning afterlife. Thus, it leaves great room for development of personal opinion regarding life after death. An Orthodox Jew can believe that soul of a righteous person will go to a place that is similar to the heaven believed by Christians. They can also believe that righteous people are reincarnated via many lifetimes.
It is also possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the soul waits till when the messiah comes so that they can be resurrected. The same Jew can believe that demons torment souls of wicked persons or that these souls will simply be destroyed at death which will bring an end to their existence.
There are scholars who believe that life after death was a concept that was developed in the late history of Jews. Torah emphasizes concrete, immediate and physical punishments and rewards instead of abstract futures. However, there is evidence in Torah showing that life after death exists. There are several places where Torah indicates that there will be a reunion of the righteous with loved ones in the afterlife and the wicked will not be included in this reunion.
The righteous will enjoy life in Olam Ha Ba, which is a Hebrew term literally meaning the world to come. The righteous dead will be resurrected and rejoined with their loved ones and enjoy life in this world. The souls of the wicked persons will go to Gehenna where they will be punished for a limited time of twelve months after which they would be pure to move to the Gan Eden.
Gan Eden is a contrast of Gahenna. It is conceived as a place or paradise where individuals that led a righteous life went to. It is not clear whether Gan Eden is intended for the souls upon death or for the resurrected people when the Olam Ha Ba comes.
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Judaism Beliefs about God
Judaism beliefs about God teach about the existence of an ultimate reality, all-powerful, single God. This belief is the one that made Jews unique among the other people of the ancient times. This belief was also the legacy of Judaism passed across the whole western world. YHWH is the sacred name of this God that was revealed in Exodus to Moses. The original pronunciation of this word is not known since the ancient Hebrew did not have vowels.
According to Judaism, God is monotheistic. He is absolute, incomparable and individual being that is considered as the ultimate cause of the entire existence. The tradition of the Jews teaches that true aspect of this God is unknowable and incomprehensible. It is only the revealed aspect of God that brought about the existence of the universe and interaction with the world and mankind.
The only God of Israel is considered as the God of Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. He is the guide of the universe or the world who delivered the Israelites from Egypt where they were living in slavery and he gave them 213 Mutzvot at the Mount Sinai that are described in Torah. The proper name of the God of Israel is written as YHWH. This name presents a combination of the past, present and future tense of a verb “howa”.
Howa means “to be” and when translated it literally means “self-existence One”. Moses was given further explanation of this name when YHWH gave him a statement that Eheye Asher Eheye. This means “I will be that I will be”, implying that the name is related to God as the true God he is. It is the revealed essence of God that transcends the entire universe. It is a representation of the compassion of God towards the universe or the world.
God is also called Elohim in the tradition of Jews. This relates to interaction of the universe and God. God as he manifests himself in physical world. It is a designation of justice of the God of Israel and it means, “One who is the totality of powers, forces and causes in the universe”.
In Judaism, God’s nature is an area of abstract belief. The existence of God is a fact that is accepted virtually without a question. There is no need for proof and it is rarely offered. Torah starts by saying that “In the beginning, God created”. There is no explanation for God and His origin.
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Islamic Perspective of Life after Death
Islamic perspective of life after death holds that human existence does not end at death. Instead, humans continue to exist in form of resurrected physical and spiritual beings after human body dies. Everybody is scared of death and uncertainty of the life or what happens after death is frightening. As such, Islam perspective of life after death tries to explain what happens after one dies. According to Islam, death is a natural threshold of the next level of existence.
Islam holds that there exists a relationship between the conduct of an individual on earth and life beyond death. In the afterlife, some people will be punished while others will be rewarded in commensuration with their earthly conduct. According to Islamic teachings, a day shall come for God to resurrect and then gather the last and the first of the creation after which everyone will be judged justly.
During judgment, people will have to enter the final abode, Paradise or Hell. Islam perspective of life after death and faith are what urges people to avoid sin. In earthly life, it is normal for impious to enjoy and pious to suffer in some cases. However, Islam religion teaches that all will be judged on the Day of Judgment and that is when justice shall be served.
Faith in the life after death is among the fundamental beliefs of Muslims that one is expected to complete their faith. Rejecting life after death renders the other fundamental beliefs meaningless. Muslims explain this belief or concept of life after death and earthly conduct with example of a child that does not put their hand in a fire. This is because they know that by doing this they will burn. When the same child is required to do homework, they might feel lazy because they are not quite sure what good education can do for them in the future.
This is the same of a man who does not have faith in the Day of Judgment. To such a person, obeying or disobeying God does not have any consequence. It is difficult for such a man to lead a God-conscious life. This is because his faith in life after or even in God does not have any incentive. Thus, such a man lives in a world that is full of earthly indulgence. Islam perspective of life after death is a greater factor that determines the course of the life of a Muslim.
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Islamic Beliefs about God
Islamic beliefs about God are based on the existence of one, incomparable, unique God who does not have a partner or son and the only right God who should be worshiped. Muslims believe that their God called Allah is the only true God and all other deities are false. The name of the God that Muslims believe in is the most powerful and magnificent and it sublime the perfect attributes. No one shares the divinity of Allah or His attributes.
There are six main beliefs of the Islam faith. These are:
- Belief that Allah is the only God who should be worshipped
- Belief in the angels
- Belief in Muslim holy books
- Belief in prophets such as Adam, Ibrahim, Musa, Dawud, Isa and Muhammad as the last prophet
- Belief that there is a Day of Judgment
- Belief in the predestination
Muslims believe that Allah is an all-powerful God and the creator of the perfectly ordered universe. He is not part of the universe that he created but he is transcendent. Allah is always referred to using names and terms that emphasize His greatness, majesty and superiority. There are 99 beautiful names that are used in reference to God including the Fashioner, the Creator, the Provider, the Bestower, the Opener, the Life-giver, the Recorder, the Reckoner and the Prevailer.
Despite revealing his will via the prophets, the actual nature of God is still unknowable. The will of God is all that Muslims have and they have this will in perfection and described in Qur’an. However, Islam does not consider Qur’an as being equal to the essence or nature of God. Qur’an is the word, commandment and will of Allah or God. God has never revealed himself to humans. There are adjectival descriptions of God only that are attributed to divine being and they only bear God’s revelation for man.
Despite being transcendence and unknowable, Qur’an does not offer teachings that Allah remains aloof at some places in heaven or that he does not know his children or Muslims. Allah is everywhere and close to a man like a man is to veins in the neck. However, one thing that is made clear by the teachings of Islam is that Allah is indivisible and unique. Strict monotheism of God is repeatedly emphasized in the Qur’an which rejects the polytheism of God taught by Christianity in the trinity concept.
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