CONCEPT OF GOD IN MAJOR RELIGIONS. Spreading the Truth of Islam. Authored by: Dr. Zakir Abdul Karim Naik. *For More Queries Regarding this Book . “I have come back a the belief that religion holds the key to the mystery of. existence;”. Religion according to the Oxford dictionary means “belief in a. There has always been a question in the minds of people about the existence of God. All major religions have believed in one god or another.
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The major world religions and their beliefs about God. Hinduism WhatsApp Share Facebook Share Twitter Share Share by Email More PDF. By Marilyn . These seem clear, well-defined, easy-to-follow paths for spirituality. But they become. ing how their religions are similar and different from that belies the common Hindu's conception that all all genuine religious paths are facets of God's. PDF | Islam and Buddhism are two major religions in the world with many followers. similarities and differences between the two religions on the concept of God.
It then examined sources to which these authors referred in footnotes and bibliographies. In addition, material was gathered through searches of data bases in religious studies, general humanities, social sciences and medicine along with web-based key word searches for current policies in various traditions. Results Religious traditions provide their adherents with explanations for the meaning and purpose of life and include ethical analysis for the situations in which their followers find themselves.
This paper aims to increase cultural competency in practitioners by demonstrating the reasoning process religions use to determine what they believe to be the correct decision in the face of death. Conclusion Patterns emerge in the comparative study of religious perspectives on death. Western traditions show their rootedness in Judaism in their understanding of the human individual as a finite, singular creation.
Although the many branches of Western religions do not agree on precisely how to determine death, they are all able to locate a moment of death in the body. In Eastern traditions personhood is not defined in physical terms. From prescribing the location of death, to resisting medical intervention and definitions of death, Eastern religions, in their many forms, incorporate the beliefs and practices that preceded them.
Adding to the complexity for these traditions is the idea that death is a process that continues after the body has met most empirical criteria for determining death. For Hinduism and Buddhism, the cessation of heart, brain and lung function is the beginning of the process of dying—not the end.
Roman Catholicism, for example, believes that death happens when the soul leaves the body; Buddhism sees death occurring at a point after the invisible, subtle consciousness leaves the physical body. Because these events are not visible, religions turn to empirical evidence to determine that death has occurred. This paper seeks to explore how religious perspectives define death and determine that it has occurred with application to end of life care and donation of organs and tissues after death.
This paper develops the basic features of religious traditions and the ways in which their ethical analysis takes place. It aims to increase cultural competency in practitioners by demonstrating the reasoning process religions use to determine the correct decision in the face of death.
Research for this explication and analysis took several forms beginning with a review of books and articles written by key ethicists in Judaism, and various forms of Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The first seek a conceptual understanding of the essential differences between life and death. The second seek to determine the clinical signs, tests, or criteria which separate life and death most accurately [ 1 ].
These biologically based definitions have developed for several reasons. New life sustaining technologies, including artificial heart-lung machines, the ability to transplant life sustaining organs and compliance with the dead donor rule for the purposes of post mortem transplantation, require precision in determining a specific moment when death can be pronounced.
Because of the need for biological clarity in understanding the point of death, there are a wide range of articles offering different opinions on how to make appropriate empirical assessments. Scholars have provided solid scholarship on a range of religious traditions understanding of determining death. For example, individuals such as Damien Keown [ 3 ] and Karma Leske Tsomo [ 4 ] discuss Buddhist perspectives, Omar Sultan Haque [ 5 ] provides material on Islamic ethics and end of life issues, Yitzchok Breitowitz [ 6 ] gives an overview of contemporary Jewish perspectives, and Aaron Mackler provides a comparative analysis of Jewish and Roman Catholic Bioethics [ 7 ].
Chaplains Sue Wintz and George Handzbo have produced a Handbook for healthcare professionals containing useful information from a wide range of traditions on a variety of bio-medical ethical issues including determining death and withdrawing support [ 8 ]. There is not, however, one source that provides an overview of the ethical decision making that occurs as various religions think about death and determine that it has occurred. This article fills that void by providing a starting point for the analysis of end-of-life determinations.
It uses the perspective and methodology of comparative religion to provide an overview of the basic features of individual traditions, to discuss how they view life and death and to explore how they make moral decisions in the face of death. When confronting issues at the edges of life, religious perspectives can become especially influential because they explain the nature of the human individual, the goal of life, the reasons for death and for most, what happens after the death of the body.
Because religions provide a way of interpreting the world, individuals living in the midst of a particular tradition can continue to be influenced by it even if they have stopped believing or practicing. Traditions that do not share these influences construe their understandings of death from sources within their cultures and faiths and can reject determinations of death that center on the brain.
The nature of polytheism
In the United States, two states, New York and New Jersey, have enacted legal protections for individuals holding religious views that differ from the standard definitions of death. Until the middle of the twentieth century, death was something observed. Breathing stopped and so did the beating of the heart. Prior to the introduction of mechanical ventilators in the midth century and the evolution of resuscitative measures, a non-brain or circulation formulation was used to determine death.
The concept of brain death also addressed ethical concerns associated with organ donation that arose from the then-new discipline of transplant surgery.
Concept of God in Major Religions
Mechanical respirators complicated the situation since they could breathe for a patient. The situation of the artificially maintained patient developed. By the latter half of the 20th century a view of death that did not look to breathing or a beating heart prevailed in most American and European hospitals.
This view has its root in the Harvard Ad Hoc Committee on Brain Death, a committee that was formed to address a number of issues including finding a definition of death that would permit the removal of organs before they deteriorated from lack of circulation [ 10 ].
Though this definition is not without opponents from various medical, moral, cultural and religious perspectives, it now dominates European and North American medicine. Within these families of religions there are shared ideas about the nature of the human individual and the world; there can be differences, of course, but, basic features define and unite them.
Western traditions Judaism, Christianity and Islam trace their roots to a single ancestor, Abraham, and are united by the way in which they construe human life. All three believe the individual to be a unique creation of God whose life begins at a specific point in time; all understand the human as remaining him or herself throughout life and into the afterlife.
All three determine death by looking at the cessation of bodily organs, such as the heart, lungs or brain. Judaism The three largest movements within contemporary Judaism are Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. All three agree on key theological precepts such as monotheism, reverence for Scripture, and the celebrations of Judaic traditions such as Yom Kippur and Passover.
When they differ, the issues center on practice, requirements for ordination and conversion, and interpreting contemporary moral issues. To determine whether an action is compliant with Jewish law, halacha, Judaism will turn to Biblical sources and key interpretations.
These include the older writings Mishnah, and Talmud, and contemporary rabbinic rulings called Responsa.
These are used in much the same way contemporary secular law turns to legal precedent to analyze current cases. Orthodoxy believes that obedience to Jewish law is mandatory because it comes from God and is the most traditional in their understanding of Biblical mandates.
When dealing with complex issues, Orthodox Jews will turn to their Rabbi to interpret and understand the course of action that is in keeping with the Law. Conservative Jews also believe that Jewish law is binding, but view the law as developing through both God and human interpreters in a process that continues in the present [ 11 ], p. Thus, like their Orthodox counterparts, Conservative Jews will use Scripture and tradition and defer to the ruling of their Rabbi, but their rulings are often more flexible than those of Orthodox rabbis [ 12 ], p.
Reform Judaism is the most liberal of the three, it champions individual autonomy and believes that Judaism must adapt to the contemporary situation. Reform Jews will use extra-halachic materials so that Jewish law is just one of several sources that may be used [ 12 ]. The decision of the individual and family in determining the morality of an action is allowed. On the issue at hand, determination of death, there are wide variations across all three groups and within them as well. As there is no central authority in any of these movements, responses to complex moral issues will vary because of cultural considerations such as nationality or generation.
Nonetheless, all three groups would agree that all of life is a gift from God and should be protected and maintained, that humans received the gift of life through the breath of God as recorded in both Genesis and Leviticus where God breathes into Adam in order to enliven him.
In addition, taking care of the body is an obligation, since the body belongs to God. Authoritative ancient sources did not face the situation of a patient whose breath stopped but whose heart continued beating for more than a few seconds or minutes at most. So while cessation of breath and the resulting cessation of a heartbeat was the traditional test for death, the ventilator raises new issues.
Spontaneous respiration has ceased because of brain death, but the heart continues to beat. The beating heart in the brain dead patient is the focus of considerable contemporary discussion. Reform and Conservative Judaism overwhelmingly accept neurological criteria and have, according to Elliott Dorff, since shortly after the Harvard Criteria appeared [ 11 ], p.
But within Orthodox Judaism, there are two competing opinions on the appropriate way to determine that an individual has died. One side accepts neurological criteria as outlined by the Harvard Committee; the other does not, insisting instead that cessation of heartbeat is the only valid criterion [ 6 ]. Those within Orthodoxy who accept neurological criteria in determining death draw on a variety of commentaries to support their view.
First, they consult an eleventh century ruling of revered interpreter, Rashi who described [ 13 ] the appropriate response to a person trapped in a collapsed building on the Sabbath. If there is breath, attempts to free the person from the rubble can continue because the Sabbath may be violated to save a life; if there is no breath, the work should cease.
This is then combined with a twelfth century text, The Babylonian Talmud written by Maimonides [ 15 ] that discusses whether decapitated animals that move are alive or dead.
This pro-neurological group likens the beating heart to spasmodic movement in animals and considers it extraneous movement, not determinant of life. Because there would be no respiration without mechanical support, Feinstein determined that a patient with no spontaneous respiration should be considered dead [ 17 ]. In , The Israeli Chief Rabbinical Council drew on these and other interpretations to affirm the use of neurological criteria and noted five prerequisites for establishing the state of brain death: A.
Clear knowledge of the cause of the injury. Absolute cessation of spontaneous breathing. Detailed clinical proof of injury to the brain. Objective proof of destruction of the brain stem by objective scientific tests, such as the electrical brainstem testing. Proof that the absolute cessation of respiration and inactivity of the brain stem continue for at least twelve hours despite full, customary intensive care [ 18 ].
The opposition to this ruling relies on some of the same sources to substantiate its own view [ 19 ].
David Bleich, author of books, articles and Responsa on this issued, begins his opposition by stating that it is inappropriate to use scientific or medical criteria to make any determination of death, these decisions, he believes are the purview of moral and religious domains [ 20 ].
He pronounces death to be the cessation of all cardiac and respiratory activity and all movement. To make these rulings he draws on the same commentaries the opposition uses, but points to a section they do not use [ 22 ] and comes to a different conclusion. Bleich considers the rhythmic and continuing beating of the heart to be movement that is not comparable to the spasms occurring after decapitation.
The opposition between these two views has endured for more than fifty years; each side produces volumes of materials, Responsa and arguments to bolster its view.
It remains contentious. In January of , The Rabbinic Council of American, a union of Modern Orthodox Rabbis declared that it would not lend its support to either position but encouraged its members to make their own decisions on which definitions fulfill the requirements of Jewish law. Around the same time, one rabbinate in the United Kingdom reversed earlier rulings and rejected brain death criteria [ 21 ]. Withdrawal of mechanical support: Judaism Withdrawing mechanical support at any point is at least as controversial in the orthodox community as the criteria used to define death.
Even those who favor using neurological criteria find it difficult to discontinue mechanical support, especially the ventilator, even though the patient has met the criteria for brain death. For example if one is a goses moribund person for a long time and is unable to expire, it is forbidden to remove the pillows or mattress from underneath him,.
Feinstein, who accepts neurological criteria, sends a mixed signal when he specifically states that respirator should not be turned off even if the person meets the criteria for brain death.
There are occasional voices in the orthodox rabbinic community who believe that the respirator and other interventions may be discontinued. Most in the Orthodox community, however, see these interventions as medical treatment and argue that they are obligatory and must be continued despite the fact that death has been determined using neurological criteria. Most of orthodoxy agrees, however, that there is a point at which treatment may be suspended, but they disagree on when that point is.
He does not believe treatment should stop under other circumstances regardless of the reason. He notes that even the best intention does not matter; the act of discontinuing treatment for anyone other than a goses is still homicide [ 28 ], p.
Moshe Feinstein, in basic agreement with Bleich on this issue, extends the period of time during which it is appropriate to withdraw treament to a few weeks. The Conservative tradition shares the perspective that medical care is obligatory up to a point, but extends the period of time in which treatment may be withheld or withdrawn—up to a year or more. Permission to withhold or withdraw medicines is applied more broadly. Rabbi Elliott N. Dorff has successfully introduced the category of terefah, which applies as soon as someone receives a diagnosis of terminal, incurable illness.
While in Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the debate centers on when treatment may be terminated, Reform Judaism focuses on the therapeutic effectiveness of treatment.
The decisions in this branch of Judaism are left to the patient and family in consultation with their pysician [ 29 ], p. Christianity Christianity developed from the first century Jewish reform movement centered on Jesus. From these roots Christianity inherits respect for scripture and authoritative interpretation and brings both to the examination of contemporary moral issues. As it moved throughout the Roman Empire, Christianity borrowed key ideas from Greek philosophy, especially Plato and Aristotle.
Two aspects of Greek influence are important here: the Platonic view that the human is comprised of two separate components, body and soul, and the idea that the mind of the individual is superior to the body. A schism that began in the early eleventh century separated Christianity into two forms, now called Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy.
Western Christianity includes Roman Catholicism and the Protestant reform movements that developed from it beginning in the early sixteenth century. Roman Catholic Christianity As the church grew in its first several centuries, it quickly developed a hierarchical structure that differentiates it from Judaism.
Pronouncements on moral issues come from the top of the church structure, the Papacy, and though individuals might disagree, the pronouncements have a key impact on what the Catholic laity thinks. These pronouncements rely more on biblically based moral theory rather than on analysis of past statements of authoritative individuals. A full decade before the Harvard Committee convened, Pius XII, leader of the Church from —, addressed the International Congress of Anesthesiologists to answer questions raised by one of their members.
Included in his response were the moral issues of defining death and withdrawing mechanical support. Pius XII makes two key statements. He distinguished between the death of the whole person and the death of organs. But considerations of a general nature allow us to believe that human life continues for as long as its vital functions—distinguished from the simple life of organs—manifest themselves spontaneously or even with help of artificial processes [ 31 ].
He went on to note that: It remains for the doctor, especially the anesthesiologist, to.
These statements were later used to affirm the Catholic position that neurological criteria, determined by the medical community, were appropriate definitions of death. The authors of the Harvard criteria drew on this statement in their report. In his writings and talks, he developed a clear and consistent understanding of determining death that followed from the statements of his predecessors. In , the Pontifical Academy of Sciences revisited the issues.
The reasons for this resistance pose questions for medical neurologists, who are perhaps in the best position to clarify the pitfalls of this controversial issue. In discussing the Academy findings, John Paul II delineates the Harvard Criteria and subsequent emendations to it in an argument that affirms his acceptance of these criteria when strictly applied. He clearly states that it is appropriate to turn to medical authorities in order to assess the criteria and notes that Harvard Brain Death Criteria and that the Uniform Determination of Death Act are accepted by all 50 American States, the American Medical Academy and the American Bar Association.
Because Papal authority carries significant weight, the roughly Catholic hospitals in the American medical system all adhere to neurological determination of death. They uniformly oppose the use of neurological criteria and argue instead that cessation of the cardio-pulmonary system is the only licit determination of death.
It results from the separation of the life-principle or soul from the corporal reality of the person. Withdrawal of mechanical support: Roman Catholicism Because the official position of the Roman Catholic Church firmly asserts that brain death is death, there is no difficulty in ending the mechanical means that was used to support the patient prior to the determination of death.
The Church uses guidelines to assist in deciding when withdrawing support prior to determining death is a morally fitting decision. To assess the appropriateness of an action in a complex moral situation such as withholding or stopping treatment, Roman Catholicism draws on an ethical system developed by thirteenth century theologian, Thomas Aquinas, and a 16th century lecture on stopping treatment by Francisco diVittoria.
Both men provide a method for ethical analysis. Four criteria must be met for an action to be considered moral. First, the action must arise from a good will, second, there must be a proportion of good over evil arising from the action, third, the evil may not be directly intended, and finally the evil must not be the means of producing the good. Administering a drug that will provide pain relief to a terminally ill patient the good but will also depress the respiratory system and hasten death the evil exemplifies double effect.
Giving the drug can be considered acceptable if the action is intended to benefit the patient, the lessening of suffering is sufficient to outweigh the shortening of life, the death is not directly intended and the patient is not killed in order to end suffering. In addition to Natural Law, Roman Catholic medical ethics make use of several principles Francisco DiVittoria set out in his discussion of end of life issues.
He developed the categories of ordinary and extraordinary means [ 39 ]. In his address Pius XII referred to both Natural Law and extraordinary means in his discussion of when treatment can be withdrawn. Following Aquinas, he advises decisions based on the proportion of good over evil in direct relation to the particular circumstances of the individual. Extra-ordinary means, in the face of an incurable illness, are not required.
Instead, he uses only the terms proportionate and disproportionate means which can be determined by analyzing particular cases and the types of treatments, costs, physical and moral resources of the patient.
Because of the hierarchical system of Roman Catholicism, statements of the papal authority have significant weight in the Catholic Health Care system.
There is one set of directives, for example, for all Catholic health care facilities in the United States. This includes withdrawing enteral or parenteral nutrition in a patient who is dying, but not from someone in a persistent vegetative state. Contemporary Eastern Orthodoxy differentiates itself from Roman Catholicism in several ways, two are important for the moral issues discussed here. Eastern Orthodoxy does not recognize the Roman Catholic Pope as the supreme authority over all of Christendom.
Eastern Orthodoxy is organized into autonomous regional churches. Each regional Church has its own governing body which results in differences across the tradition in a variety of areas including some medical ethical issues. Though it is hierarchical, Orthodox Christianity sometimes cedes the decision making in ethical dilemmas to the individuals in consultation with their spiritual fathers. The decision to use non-abortive contraception, which the Church generally opposes, is left to individuals in consultation with their spiritual father.
Although Eastern Orthodoxy still shares a concern for basing morality on the Bible and authoritative interpretations from the Church Fathers with its Roman counterparts, it does not accept the traditions that developed in Rome after the split. This includes the development of moral theory that began with Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. Eastern Orthodoxy does not believe that moral issues can be understood through either the processes of reason or the use of philosophical analysis.
Greek Orthodox bioethicist, John Breck describes what is necessary to do ethics. Philosophical ethics are not sufficient to handle of complex ethical issues because the human mind does not have the requisite knowledge to determine what the consequences of an action will be. That knowledge can only be gained through prayer and the study of scripture and the Church Fathers [ 44 ].
Breck uses the example of a physician treating a terminally ill patient who has assented to a plan to alleviate suffering in a way that will hasten death, Breck notes that by using the principle of double intent, this action would be permissible, because the evil here the death of the patient is not technically intended.
Buddhists follow a list of religious principles and adhere to personal restraint, fasting and very dedicated meditation. When a Buddhist meditates it is not the same as praying or focusing on a god, it is more of a self-discipline. Through practiced meditation a person may reach Nirvana -- "the blowing out" of the flame of desire. Buddhism provides something that is true of most major religions: disciplines, values and directives that a person may want to live by.
Islam and its beliefs Muslims believe there is the one almighty God, named Allah, who is infinitely superior to and transcendent from humankind. Allah is viewed as the creator of the universe and the source of all good and all evil. Everything that happens is Allah's will. He is a powerful and strict judge, who will be merciful toward followers depending on the sufficiency of their life's good works and religious devotion.
A follower's relationship with Allah is as a servant to Allah. Though a Muslim honors several prophets, Muhammad is considered the last prophet and his words and lifestyle are that person's authority. To be a Muslim, one must follow five religious duties: 1.
Repeat a creed about Allah and Muhammad; 2. Recite certain prayers in Arabic five times a day; 3. Give to the needy; 4. One month each year, fast from food, drink, sex and smoking from sunrise to sunset; 5. Pilgrimage once in one's lifetime to worship at a shrine in Mecca. At death -- based on one's faithfulness to these duties -- a Muslim hopes to enter Paradise. If not, they will be eternally punished in hell. For many people, Islam matches their expectations about religion and deity.
Islam teaches that there is one supreme deity, who is worshiped through good deeds and disciplined religious rituals. After death a person is rewarded or punished according to their religious devotion. Christianity and its beliefs Christians believe in one eternal God who is creator of all that is. He is viewed as a loving God who offers everyone a personal relationship with himself now in this life.
In his life on Earth, Jesus Christ did not identify himself as a prophet pointing to God or as a teacher of enlightenment. Rather, Jesus claimed to be God in human form. He performed miracles, forgave people of their sin and said that anyone who believed in him would have eternal life. Followers of Jesus regard the Bible as God's written message to humankind. In addition to being an historical record of Jesus' life and miracles, the Bible reveals his personality, his love and truth, and how one can know and relate to God, as you could a friend.
Christians believe that all people sin, including themselves. They see Jesus as their Savior, as the Messiah who was prophesied by all the prophets of the Old Testament, in the Bible. They believe that Jesus Christ, out of love for us, paid for the sin for all of humanity by dying on a cross.
Three days later, he rose from the dead as he promised, proving his deity. How distinct are these major religions? In looking at these major belief systems and their views of God, we find tremendous diversity: Hindus acknowledge multitudes of gods and goddesses. Buddhists say there is no deity. New Age Spirituality followers believe they are God. Muslims believe in a powerful but unknowable God. Christians believe a loving God who created us to know him. Are all religions worshiping the same God?
Let's consider that. New Age Spirituality teaches that everyone should come to center on a cosmic consciousness, but it would require Islam to give up their one God, Hinduism to give up their numerous gods, and Buddhism to establish that there is a God. Of these, only one affirms that there is a loving God who can be known now in this life.
What does each religion require? Most of the world religions place an individual on their own, striving for spiritual perfection. In Hinduism a person is on their own trying to gain release from karma. In New Age a person is working at their own divinity. In Buddhism it is an individual quest at being free from desire.
And in Islam, the individual follows religious laws for the sake of paradise after death. With Jesus Christ, you see God offering us a relationship with himself, not based on our efforts, but based on what he did for us.
All religions are working on the same problem. This is what leads to the creation of religions. We also want to feel at peace, fulfilled and having inner strength. And so we move to practices like meditation, religious rituals, self-help books, fasting, prayer, personal sacrifice, pilgrimages, etc.
However, when it comes to connecting with God who is there and created us, our problem is not lack of personal effort.
Our problem is our sin. Muhammad also admitted that he was in need of forgiveness.
We sense that separation, that distance. God acknowledges this separation between us and him and provided a solution to it. He said the payment for sin is death…eternal spiritual separation from him. Yet out of love for us, Jesus Christ, God himself, came in human form to pay for our sin for us.
Connecting with the Divine
Jesus took all of our sin on himself, suffered on a cross, and willingly died in our place. The Bible says, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us. This means forgiveness for all our sins Jesus paid for them all.
God, who created the universe, loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us. He does not leave a person's failures on their shoulders, with a dim hope of becoming a better person tomorrow. In Jesus Christ, God reached toward humanity, providing a way for us to connect with him. God wants us to know him. Jesus said, "He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirstyYou can do so right now, if it is your heart's desire: "God, I ask you to forgive me and invite you to enter my heart right now.
Britannica Book of the Year. Rather, Jesus claimed to be God in human form. If an animal is to be consumed by humans, Islam requires that it be slaughtered in a specific, ritual way. Is there anything in them that might give our lives greater depth and direction? The second seek to determine the clinical signs, tests, or criteria which separate life and death most accurately [ 1 ]. Christ offers us real freedom from our sin and guilt.
The sojourn of the soul is a thrilling divine romance in which the lover, who in the beginning is conscious of nothing but emptiness, frustration, superficiality and the gnawing chains of bondage, gradually attains an increasingly fuller and freer expression of love and ultimately disappears and merges in the Divine Beloved to realize the unity of the Lover and the Beloved in the supreme and eternal fact of God as Infinite Love.
These are used in much the same way contemporary secular law turns to legal precedent to analyze current cases. Beginning a relationship with God.