For a topic outline on this subject, see Outline of religion
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Introduction

Symbols of various religions of the world.

Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

Selected article

A mosque is a place of worship for followers of the Islamic faith, it is said that you always have to face Mecca (the holy city of Islam) when worshiping Allah (the only god). Muslims often refer to the mosque by its Arabic name, masjid (pl. masajid) (Arabic: مسجد — pronounced: /ˈmas.ʤid/ or /ˈmas.ˈɡʲid/). The word "mosque" in English refers to all types of buildings dedicated for Islamic worship, although there is a distinction in Arabic between the smaller, privately owned mosque and the larger, "collective" mosque (masjid jami) (Arabic: جامع), which has more community and social amenities.

The primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place where Muslims can come together for prayer. Nevertheless, mosques are known around the world nowadays for their general importance to the Muslim community as well as their demonstration of Islamic architecture. They have developed significantly from the open-air spaces that were the Quba Mosque and Masjid al-Nabawi in the seventh century. Today, most mosques have elaborate domes, minarets, and prayer halls. Mosques originated on the Arabian Peninsula, but now exist on all the world's inhabited continents. They are not only places for worship and prayer, but also places to learn about Islam and meet fellow believers.

Selected image

Lotus with Soal
Credit: Vaikunda Raja

Lotus with Soul is the symbol of Ayyavazhi, a monistic religion, originated in South India in the mid 19th century, centred on Ayya Vaikundar and on his life and teachings as present in Ayyavazhi scriptures.

Selected religious figure or deity

Matsya avatar of Vishnu
In Hindu philosophy, an avatar or avatara (Sanskrit: अवतार, avatāra), most commonly refers to the incarnation (bodily manifestation) of a higher being (deva), or the Supreme Being (God) onto planet Earth. The Sanskrit word avatāra- literally means "descent" (avatarati) and usually implies a deliberate descent into lower realms of existence for special purposes. The term is used primarily in Hinduism, for incarnations of Vishnu whom many Hindus worship as God. The ten most famous incarnations of Vishnu are collectively known as the Dasavatara ('dasa' in Sanskrit means ten). This list is included in the Garuda Purana (1.86.10-11) and denotes those avatars most prominent in terms of their influence on human society.

The word has also been used by extension to refer to the incarnations of God in other religions, especially by adherents to dharmic traditions when explaining figures such as Jesus.

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On this day...

February 16:

Selected quote

Albert Einstein
Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the Old One. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.
Albert Einstein, in a 1926 letter to Max Born

Selected scripture

The Unicursal Hexagram
The Book of the Law is the central sacred text of Thelema, written (or received) by Aleister Crowley in Cairo, Egypt in the year 1904. It contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on April 8, April 9, and April 10. Crowley claims that the author was an entity named Aiwass, whom he later referred to as his personal Holy Guardian Angel (or "Secret Self"). Biographer Lawrence Sutin quotes private diaries that fit this story, and writes that "if ever Crowley uttered the truth of his relation to the Book," his public account accurately describes what he remembered on this point. The teachings within this small book are expressed as the Law of Thelema, usually encapsulated by these two phrases:

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" (AL I:40) and
"Love is the law, love under will" (AL I:57)

Its full title is Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, The Book of the Law, as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI. It is often abbreviated as Liber Legis, Liber AL, or even just AL.

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