The world is filled with influential religions of varying sizes, belief systems, votaries, deities, and important texts, among other aspects. In fact, it has been estimated that there are 10,000 distinct religions across the globe.
However, there are three religions that are the most practiced in the world today (as of February 2022):
Note: the third-highest religious group is actually no religion (16% of the world population), but for the sake of this article’s purpose, we omitted it from the list and instead recognized it here.
Let’s take a closer look at these three religions, their practices, beliefs, sacred texts, and more.
As of the writing of this article, 31.2% of the world population follows the religion of Christianity, which amounts to about 2.4 billion people. These figures include all three branches of the religion (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox).
Followers of Christianity have one key influential text, which is the Bible that contains both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Christians believe in the Holy Trinity: the God of Abraham, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
The Christian Church includes a specific hierarchy: bishops (the “pope” is the bishop of Rome), priests, and deacons.
Currently, there are 1.9 billion Muslims (people who follow the Islam religion) in the world, totaling 24.1% of the Earth’s population. There are two main sects of Islam: Sunni and Shia. All essentially believe in the doctrines and overall beliefs of the religion, but the divide began after the death of their Prophet, Muhammed, on who would succeed him as the leader.
There is one main text in Islam: the Qur’an. It is the text that is said to have been the Word of God bestowed upon the religion and its followers by Muhammed, God’s messenger. Muslims believe in one true God, named Allah, but also believe that Muhammed is their prophet.
In contrast to the Christian religion, there is no structural hierarchy of individuals set in Islam. However, there are some community leaders, such as the imam (who leads prayers in a mosque), among others.
Hinduism is currently observed by 15.1% of the world, amounting to 1.2 billion people. There are four major traditions (sometimes referred to as denominations) in Hinduism: Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism. One of the core destinctions between these traditions is their belief in their essential diety.
The Veda, which means the “knowledge,” is the most sacred, ancient, and central texts of Hinduism. The scripture developed over 2000 years and is believed to have been derived directly from seers.
Brahman is ultimately the universal god worshipped by Hindus, but there are many other gods and goddesses alongside him. The number varies depending on the special school, but there are believed to be as many 330 million gods and goddesses in the religion as a whole.
There are two main Hindu priests in the religion: the Pujari, which is the temple priest, and Purohit, which is a higher ranking priest with notable linkage to a family or dynasty.
Votaries in all religions require specific clothing items to properly devote themselves to their religion while also supporting other followers. This is indeed true for the three most worshipped religions in the world.
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