Religion in Saudi Arabia: Does Saudi Religion Differ from Mainstream Islam?

Like Christians in the West, there are many different denominations or sects in Islam. The two major Islamic branches, Sunnis and Shi’ites are located throughout the Middle East, and both branches have followers in Saudi Arabia. Officially in Saudi Arabia today, 92% of the population are considered Sunni Moslems and 8% are considered Shi’ite Muslims who live mostly along the coast of the Persian Gulf. Sunnis are considered the “Orthodox” branch of Islam, and the “Shi’ites,” like the Protestants, broke away from Orthodox Islam when Ali’s descendants were slain in Karbala, Iraq, over leadership issues.

In the beginning, leadership of Islam came from the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Then, direction shifted to Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and other areas. A post was eventually set up in the holy cities in the Arabian Peninsula known as the Sharifate to oversee the holy cities.

Sharifs of Mecca and Medina

Members of the Prophet Muhammad’s clan, the Banu Hashim (a part of the Quraysh tribe from Mecca) were selected to be Sharifs of Mecca and Medina …

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Why Religion Works

I’ve done a post on my views of religion before. One thing I neglected to include, though, is why religion is so effective at what it does.

Religion, as the saying goes, is the opiate of the masses. It’s exactly what someone in a position of power wants. Something easily manipulable, that’s trusted and adored by all the plebeians, that not only distracts, but governs their lives. It’s system is brilliant.

It’s sprung on the person in moments of weakness. It’s always, “Depressed? Confused? Lost? Turn to Jesus!”, not “Content? Happy? Enjoying life? Turn to Jesus!”.

So, someone going through some rough times is presented with this apparent solution. It’s their fault for not trusting God, and worshiping him! Their told that God has all their answers, all they need to do is establish a relationship with him. It fills in possible gaps in their understanding of the world, and makes them feel good.

So, alright, they go to church, where the rules they are to live by are laid down. Don’t agree? Uh-oh!

Satan …

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How Religion, Free Will and Biology Interrelate and Conflict

Perhaps we don’t have the type of free will or free choice we believe, according to what has recently been discovered. There are physiological factors that can control it. So what does that do to the free will debate?

Scientists in France have found that if a certain part of the brain is stimulated it will provoke the desire to do something such as wiggle a finger or move a leg and even make the person believe he or she actually did move even when lying completely still. They found this out by stimulating the brains of patients undergoing surgery. Patients responded they moved even when they didn’t, which reflects what is called in social psychology and religion free will.

If free will is a physiological response, what does religion say? Faith groups believe that the ability to make decisions is given by God but that there is a plan that God knows about our lives. With some faith groups the plan can be overridden by free choice or free will. With others the plan …

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Spirituality vs. Religion

Imagine yourself in this following situation; or better yet, ponder on which side you seem to find yourself.

For his first sermon in a new parish, the young priest went up to the podium and said, “Instead of giving you a very long speech, I would like to try something new: everyone please each take one item home from the church.”

This caused a bit of a confused murmuring from the congregation. Did the priest just tell everyone to simply get up and take something? Anything?

Some of the local businessmen were the first to get up, and carried away the full collection baskets. But everyone else just stood there, bewildered at this strange experiment.

The following week, the priest said the same thing: “Please take one thing home from the church.” Some local jewelers took the chalice and cruets, some collectors took the paintings and statues. A few polite–but still reluctant–churchgoers quietly picked up the flowers by the altar.

And so on it continued, week after week, with the priest asking each of them …

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Muni Mini-Meditation – San Francisco Alternative Religions

We all know the benefits of meditation — stress reduction, lower blood pressure, peace of mind — it’s an exercise that totally relaxes and refreshes our body, mind and spirit.

And those of us who meditate also know how hard it can be carrying that divine relaxation over into the rest of our lives. We get used to meditating in our quiet place, at a specific time, in a specific way. But that habit can create a weird little vicious cycle — we end up only being able to meditate and relax in that special place, and can feel even more stressed out away from our practice than we did before we ever began to meditate. As a result, our family issues, work issues and transportation issues just seem to get harder and harder to deal with peacefully.

One great way to break the meditation cycle and learn to stay calm and centered regardless of the situation is to meditate “on the fly”; that is, meditate wherever and whenever you have a few minutes. One …

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Traditional Islam

Traditional Islam, like its more modern incarnation, upholds the belief in a single deity, Allah. The root of Islam are the words “salam” and “silm,” which mean peace. And, in fact, Islam is about finding peace with the Creator, which can be achieved through complete submission to His will.

In traditional Islam there is one definitive text, the Koran, which is the precise word of God (or Allah). Any serious practice of Islam demands a full commitment to this text, which was delivered by God to His prophet Mohammed in the year 610. Additionally, traditional Muslims study hadith, which reports on the deeds and sayings of Mohammed, God’s final prophet on Earth.

Misconceptions About Traditional Islam

Since September 11, more misinformation has been spread about Islamic culture than in any other period throughout modern times. As its name indicates, Islam is a peaceful religion that urges tolerance and acceptance. But like any creed, Islam has its radical factions. When these extremists are allowed to set the tenor of the entire religion, a handful of zealots …

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Religion and Respect: What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

This morning once again I have had my blood pressure raised at the site of an article I found on the news sites online. It appears that Christianity is once again under attack and this time the target is Easter. The battleground is Ohio in Munson Township to be exact. The annual tradition of the Easter egg hunt has now been changed to “The Spring Egg Hunt” as per the township trustees. Those in favor of the change have called those against it “too touchy”, but in today’s society where Christianity is attacked on every level why should we be touchy!

Now since the article has been released many Christians, including myself are pretty upset by this, however I have heard the arguments that egg hunt traditions are rooted in ancient pagan fertility rituals surrounding spring and that the name Easter itself is based off of the pagan religious name Ishtar. I will not deny that the early Catholic church did adapt some pagan names and celebrations into the church in order to make the …

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Spirituality vs Religion: Don't Let Problems with Religion Hinder your Spiritual Life & Growth

Spirituality and religion are two different things. Understanding the difference can help you get in touch with and nurture your spiritual consciousness, especially if you have been hurt by religion.

What is the Difference Between Spirituality and Religion?

Spirituality is one facet of our human nature; religion is a group of beliefs and practices, not unlike a “how-to” guide, meant to help people express their spirituality and draw closer to their Creator, God, or the Universal Truth. In short, religion is meant to help you with your personal spiritual growth. It is your spiritual practice.

Definition of Spirituality

So what is the facet of our human nature known as spirituality? It is people’s innate desire, capacity and need to:

  • find meaning in their lives;
  • to feel fultilled, rather than empty;
  • to find purpose beyond today or this world;
  • to rise above the confines of the limited ego and all that is human and imperfect;
  • to connect with their Creator or their true inner selves;
  • to belong to something larger than themselves;
  • to triumph over fear
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An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion: Comparative Religion – Why All Beliefs Have a Common Source

If every creed passes on the same messages, why have different cultures fought against each other throughout history in bloody battles motivated by religious intolerance?

From a philosophical standpoint, there is no religion better than the other, there are only different cultural elements that covers a common message. The differences are a result of a misinterpretation of the original form of each belief system, and intolerance arises when people lose the connection with the essence of the religion and become attached to the shapes and forms.

What is Religion?

There are many different possibilities to define the word “religion,” but one of the most accepted definition is that religion is a tool to connect with divinity, or the highest instances of consciousness.

Religion is a set of rules, rituals, values and concepts that aim to lead people towards their best possibilities as humans, providing the necessary knowledge to make judgments and decisions that will ensure peace of mind, salvation, heaven, nirvana or whatever they name the state of mind that every belief system understands as …

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Religionless Christianity: Accepting Jesus as a Model for Humanity

Some find the trappings of religion to be the very thing that draws us far from the message that Scripture carries. The historical Jesus was a person of reform, challanging the treatment of outcasts in his society, questioning the traditions of the Jewish religion and calling not for the destruction of that religion, but for changes to be made in that society.

A Historical Jesus

This Jesus was historical, political, charismatic and ready and willing to use these traits to take a stand for what he believed in. He carried and promoted those beliefs to his death, indicted for those beliefs. He was a man of honor and witness willing to go the whole mile for what he believed were changes that needed to be made his society. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and the Kennedy brothers are examples of others who made the same choice. While Jesus was murdered by the state and the others by rebels against moral living makes no difference. All died for what they believed in.

Religion and Observance

Can one …

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