Top 10 Religions in the World by Followers

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Human beings can be classified into groups based on a variety of parameter but religion is possibly the most popular one since a large percentage of people practice one religion or the other. In this regard, it would be interesting to see which religion has the largest following as compared to others and so this article presents to you the list of the top 10 religions in the world with most followers.

10. Shintoism – 4 Million

Shintoism is the oldest religion in Japan and originated in the country more than 600 years before the birth of Christ. Shintoism is the only religion that can be called Japan’s indigenous religion and although it is not the most followed religion, it is still regarded as one of the most followed religions in the world by virtue of its 4 million followers. Shintoism is not like other organised religions and in fact it is mainly based on a range of rituals that have been handed down by different practitioners of the religion from different generations. There are Shinto shrines scattered across Japan and there is no single ‘holiest of holy’ shrines in Shintoism.

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9. Jainism- 4.2 million

Jainism edges out Shintoism by only 200,000 people but that is perhaps because of the fact that most of his followers are located in India, the second populous country in the world. Jainism started in the 6h century BC as a part of the Bhakti Movement in which new religious leaders emerged in order to challenge the domination of Brahmanical Hinduism and Mahavira was its most influential teacher. Practioners of Jainism believe that absolute truth is a fallacy and hence believe in multiple viewpoints, in addition to the fact that it is tolerant of other religions. Jainism believes in absolute ahimsa or non violence and all Jains are vegetarians. Even if one ends up killing an insect, it is regarded as a sin in Jainism.

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8. Confucianism- 6.3 million

The religion based on the teachings and philosophy of the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, which is why it is not often regarded as a religion but a way of life. Other than in China, Confucianism has also spread to other countries in Asia like Japan and Thailand among others that has only resulted in the growth of the religion. The Mencius book and the Doctrine of the Mean are regarded as the most important books related to Confucianism. However, one of the most important things to keep in mind about Confucianism is that those who practise it can also take an active interest in other religions and in fact embrace it without losing their right to being a member of this religion.

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7. Bahaism- 7 million

The Bahai faith is a relatively new religion as compared to the others in this list, since it evolved as a religion only in the 1800s under the teachings of a religious leader called Bahaullah in modern day Iran. At this point of time, the 7 million followers of the religion are scattered all across the world and one of the important things to point out about it is the fact that it considers the gods of other religions to be another version of their own understanding of god. In Bahaism, god is the creator of the universe and the two are intimately linked. Bahai temples are present in far corners of the world including places like Sydney, Australia and quite recently it has come to notice that another one is going to be inaugurated in Chile.

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6. Judaism- 14 million

In at number 6 is perhaps the oldest living religion in the world that has grown over the past 5000 years despite plenty of challenges like the acute anti-Semiticism that has been witnessed at different times in history and still Judaism has managed to survive as one of the major religions in the world. Jews are present at different parts of the world, however the major portion of the 14 million strong Jewish population is in Israel, a Jewish state. They pray in synagogues and the holy book of the Jews is known as The Torah.

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5. Sikhism- 23 million

Next up is the religion that is followed by 23 million people, primarily in India and considering the penchant of the Sikhs to migrate to different parts of the world a fair few  of them are scattered in most parts of the world. The Sikh religion was started by Guru Nanak in the 1400s and all the teachings of Sikhism are available in their holy book the Adi Granth. The holiest of holy Sikh temple, known as the Gurdwara known as the Golden Temple is located in Amritsar, Punjab and is regarded as one of the most beautiful places of worship in the world.

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4. Buddhism- 376 million

Well, at number 4 there is a massive jump as you move on to the really widely followed religions in the world and the position goes to Buddhism with 376 million followers across the planet. At this point of time it is the fastest growing religion in the world due to its stress on non violence and peace. However, the only thing that is surprising is the fact the Gautam Buddha founded the religion in India in the 6th century BC but instead of growing in the country from where it originated, it flourished in other lands like Japan, China and Korea. There are thousands of Buddhist monasteries all over the world where people from any religion can go and pray. The Tripitakas is the one of its most important scriptures in Buddhism.

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3. Hinduism- 900 million

Hinduism is the only religion in the world, whose beginning is unknown and is regarded as the oldest religion in the world. The Bhagwad Gita is the religious scripture of the Hindus and Hindu temples in tribute to thousands of different gods and goddesses can be found all over the world. However, the main concentration of Hindus is present in India while Nepal is the only Hindu nation in the world although its population is admittedly low. Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in India is regarded as one of the holiest cities for Hindus.

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2. Islam- 1.5 billion

The Prophet Mohammad established the Islamic faith almost 1500 years ago and over that period it has grown into one of the most followed religions in the world with a follower count of 1.5 billion globally. Muslims are present in almost every country and there are plenty of Islamic states all across the world like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh etc which follow Islamic laws. Mecca, which houses the holy black stone of Islam is visited by millions of people every year and the rush is especially acute during Ramzan, the holy month.

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1. Christianity- 2.5 billion

At number 1 is the religion that has been the most followed religion in the world for many years now and hence it is not a surprise that even in 2014 it is Christianity that emerges at the top with a whopping 2.5 billion followers. The religion that was established by Jesus of Nazareth roughly 2000 years ago is still gathering followers with its message of peace and chastity. Vatican City is the holiest place in the Christian world, where the Pope resides and in addition to that there are millions of churches all over the world where people can pray and recite the Holy Bible.

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Conclusion

Hopefully you enjoyed the breezy little read about the most followed religions in the world. Please feel free to share your reactions in the comments section below.

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