How Does Religion Most Impact The Culture Of Southwest Asia

Asia – Religion

Asia is the cradle of all of the world’s main faiths, as well as hundreds of lesser ones, including Buddhism. The geographical distribution of Asian religions, like other forms of culture, may be viewed in terms of both their sites of origin and their places of dissemination.

South Asia

Hinduism, which has a polytheistic and ceremonial heritage that includes multiple cults and sects, is the oldest of several faiths that emerged in South Asia and is the most widely practiced. It continues to be a uniting factor in Indian culture as well as the social caste system, which Hindu religion views as a reflection of the relative spiritual purity of reborn souls, according to the tradition. Outside of the Indian cultural framework, the religion has received little attention. Except for the Indonesian islands of Bali and other “Hinduized” areas, Hinduism is practiced primarily outside of the subcontinent by Indian expats.

Prambanan is a Hindu temple complex devoted to the Hindu god Shiva in the Indonesian province of Java.

  • Despite the fact that Jainism never grew extensively beyond two modern-day states in northern India, its precepts of nonviolence and asceticism have had a profound impact on contemporary Indian philosophy and culture.
  • Buddha’s teachings spawned two major diverging schools of thought in the decades after his death: Theravada, which claimed to be an orthodox devotion to the teachings of the religion’s founder, theBuddha, and Mahayana, which claimed to be the most complete explanation of the Buddha’s message.
  • Vajrayana, also known as Tantrism, is an esoteric type of Buddhism that is followed in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Mongolia, among other places.
  • In India itself, the once-large Buddhist population has shrunk to a very tiny number of devotees, compared to other parts of the world.
  • The modern Indian state of Punjab has a majority Sikh population, with the city of Amritsar serving as the religion’s spiritual center in that state.

Southwest Asia

Southwest Asia (the Middle East) is the cradle of three main monotheistic systems: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which have descended from it. Judaism, which originated in the eastern Mediterranean region around 4,000 years ago, holds that God—the wellspring of divine law—and humans are bound together in a covenant relationship. The vast majority of Asian Jews presently reside in Israel, however there are modest Jewish communities in a number of other parts of the continent as well.

  • Christianity, which originated as a branch of Judaism more than two millennia ago, has grown to be the religion with the greatest number of adherents among the world’s religions.
  • The religion is practiced by significant minority in various Asian nations (particularly South Korea), and by Roman Catholic majority populations in East Timor and the Philippines.
  • Islam extended from the Arabian Peninsula, where it was formed in the 7th century, to the Middle East, through Central Asia and portions of South Asia, and across the Bay of Bengal to Malaysia and Indonesia, where it continues to be the majority religion.
  • Indian Muslims, Filipino Muslims, and Chinese Muslims are significant minority communities in these countries.

Mecca’s Great Mosque is a must-see. Muslim pilgrims around the Kaaba, the shrine located in the heart of the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on a sunny day. iStock/Thinkstock image by Zurijeta

East Asia

Ancient Chinese religious and philosophical traditions have survived in the shape of two major schools, Daoism (Taoism) and Confucianism, both of which date back to the 5th or 6th century bce and originated in the same region of the country. Although the two schools differ in their emphasis on mystical experience and the individual’s harmony with nature (Daoism emphasizes mystical experience and the individual’s harmony with nature, whereas Confucianism emphasizes the individual’s duty in society and government), both have had a profound impact on Chinese and Chinese-derived culture.

  • They also have an impact on Buddhism, which has a large number of devotees in the country.
  • Shint is a religious term that refers to the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the people of Japan.
  • The entrance to the Shint temple A torii (gateway) at the entrance to a Shint shrine on Mount Hakone, in the Japanese prefecture of Honshu, east-central Honshu.
  • Manley.

Other religions

Numerous regional spiritual practices can be found across Asia, in addition to the major religions listed above. Some ethnic minority in South and Southeast Asia, for example, practice animism, which is particularly prevalent among them. Shamanism, which is associated with several North and Central Asian peoples, has survived to this day, with shamanistic cults being found as far away as South Korea and Japan.

7.3: The Religious Hearths of North Africa and Southwest Asia

One of the great cradles of human civilisation is regarded to be the region that encompasses North Africa and Southwest Asia. As a result, it serves as a focal point for a number of major religions across the world. These religions have altered the global cultural landscape, but they have also exacerbated tensions and conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Three religions in particular, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all trace their origins back to the tribal patriarch Abraham, who lived during the second millennium BCE and is believed to have resided in the region of present-day Israel.

  1. In religious terms, Judaism is a monotheistic religion, which means that it is defined by the belief in just one deity.
  2. The first Jewish temple, erected by Solomon in modern-day Israel in 832 BCE, is considered to be the world’s oldest structure.
  3. Herod began rebuilding the temple in the first century BCE, and it was completed by the end of the century.
  4. Because to this tragedy, there was a large-scale Jewish exodus from the region.
  5. So early Judaism was an institution focused on the Temple.
  6. The sacrifices made in the Temple no longer characterize a Jewish person; thus, what is it that distinguishes someone as Jewish?
  7. At the present time, there are around 14 million Jews worldwide; approximately 42 percent reside in Israel, another 42 percent dwell in North America, and the remaining Jews are primarily concentrated in Europe.

The Conservative movement is the largest branch of Judaism in the world.

Christianity is a monotheistic religion that is descended from Abraham.

Jesus felt that the end of the world was approaching, and he emphasized love as the most important religious concept.

In its beginnings, Christianity was a subset of Judaism, but it gradually grew into a separate religious tradition in its own right.

Over time, Christianity has spawned a number of different branches and denominations.

The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches were split as a result of this division.

Christianity is the most popular religion in the world today, with more than 2.2 billion members, making it the most popular religion in the world.

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Roman Catholicism is the biggest single denomination of Christianity, with 1.2 billion adherents, primarily in Brazil, North America, Western Europe, and portions of Africa and South America, but also in other regions of the world.

Religions such as Islam assert the existence of a single God and place a strong emphasis on Muhammad’s status as the final prophet.

Much of Jewish and Christian theology is incorporated into Islamic theology.

Islam, like Judaism, adheres to a monotheistic conception of God; God is referred to simply as Allah in Islam, which is derived from the Arabic al-ilah, which means “the God.” According to Islamic teaching, Jesus was a prophet, and much of the tale of his death and life in the Qur’an is identical to the story of Jesus’ death and life in the New Testament.

  1. Muslims believe that Muhammad began receiving revelations from God when he was 40 years old, and that he then began preaching in his society shortly after.
  2. In Arabic, the word Qur’an literally translates as “the recital.” Muhammad was compelled to flee to Yathrib, which is now the Saudi Arabian city of Medina, in 622 CE as a result of widespread persecution.
  3. Muhammad acquired followers and political power in Yathrib, and the Muslim armies led by Yathrib finally captured Mecca, where Muhammad died in 632 CE, and established a caliphate there.
  4. The vast majority of Muslims felt that the leader of Islam should be the one with the greatest qualifications.
  5. Others, on the other hand, felt that the sole legitimate leader must only be a blood related of Muhammad himself.
  6. Figure (PageIndex): Map showing Global Sunni and Shia Majorities (Sunni and Shia, respectively).
  7. First and foremost, the Shahada pillar refers to a statement of faith.

Salat is a pillar of Islam that refers to five times each day of prayer.

The third pillar of Islam, Zakat, refers to the giving of alms, or charity, as defined by the Islamic faith.

(PageIndex): Figure (PageIndex): The Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is a sacred structure.

During this month, adult Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and engaging in sexual activity during daylight hours.

In addition to being intended to draw Muslims closer to God, the month-long fast is also intended to remind them about the sense of hunger in the hopes that they will be more attentive of those who are less fortunate throughout the rest of the year.

Islam’s pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the hajj, lasts several days and involves Muslims performing a variety of rites, some of which date back to the time of Abraham.

Since 1990, multiple stampedes have taken place, the deadliest of which happened in 2015 and claimed the lives of almost 2,000 people.

Islam has around 1.8 billion adherents worldwide and is the religion with the greatest growth rate among the world’s religions.

Judaism is an ancient monotheistic religion that originated in the Middle East and considers the Torah to be its most sacred holy scripture (Torah).

Christianity is a monotheistic religion that is founded on the life and teachings of the historical figure Jesus Christ.

It is also spelt Quran.

The Quran (also known as the Koran) Hajj is a religious pilgrimage to Mecca that all physically and financially capable Muslims are expected to complete at least once in their lifetime.

Religious Freedom and Peace in South and Southwest Asia

EventCo-hosted byMonday, September 24, 201812:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Event


Bishop of Rochester from 1994 until 2009, and President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, and Advocacy (Oxford CTRA). Ambassador Husain Haqqani engages in dialogue. Former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States and Director of the Hudson Institute’s South and Central Asia Program

Hosted by

@EmilieTHF is a Visiting Fellow at the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society.


What factors contribute to greater religious liberty and more peaceful varied societies? Even while many cultures and religious beliefs teach tolerance and respect for persons of various faiths, religious minorities are persecuted throughout South and Southwest Asia, from Hindu nationalists in India who persecute Muslims to extremist Sunni Muslims in Pakistan who persecute Ahmadis. According to a survey conducted by the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture and the Religious Freedom Institute, Christians are also subjected to discrimination and abuse in these places, and they are the most persecuted religious group on the world stage.

The causes for its emergence are numerous and complicated.

Bring your questions and join us for an open discussion on promoting religious freedom and peace with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, President of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, AdvocacyDialogue, the 106th Bishop of Rochester, and the former Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan, along with former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, who is now a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute.

Religion in Southeast Asia: Diversity and the threat of extremes

Families in Thailand used to leave their children at Buddhist temples while they went to work in the fields or factories. That has changed recently. Buddhist monks would serve as both caregivers and educators. Religious instruction was popular, and gifts to Buddhist temples poured in from all over the world. However, as a result of the expansion of state-run elementary school education, religious education has suffered a significant decline (as has the income of temples). This is a narrative that is well-known across Southeast Asia.

  • Instead, they may spend their days in the fields or at their places of employment.
  • Asia is the most religiously diverse continent on the planet.
  • Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia are all countries that are less varied than the rest of the world.
  • Recent communal violence in Myanmar, as well as ongoing insurgencies in southern Thailand and the Philippines, have captured the public’s attention.
  • The Little India riots were a manifestation of this anger.
  • Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, and Brunei are among countries that have had difficulties.
  • The religious diversity of the region is not a new phenomenon.

It is difficult to overstate the impact that waves of Indianisation and Sinicisation, as well as colonialism, the entrance of Islam and Buddhism, have had on the region.

Before religious movements banded together to challenge colonial governments in the early half of the twentieth century, this had been the case.

There are several examples of religious nationalism and conservatism that may be found without having to go far.

Since the country’s shift to a more open society, communal violence between Buddhist radicals and Muslim communities has claimed the lives of scores of people in Myanmar.

The desires of transnational extremist organizations to expand their theaters of action into Southeast Asia are a source of concern on a comparable level to those of the United States.

An further source of concern for the area should be al Qaeda’s recent revelation that it aims to begin operations in South Asia, especially Myanmar.

Buddhist extremism is also attempting to expand its tentacles throughout the world.

U Wirathu (commonly referred to as the “Buddhist bin Laden” and spiritual leader of Myanmar’s Buddhist extremist 969 organization) was asked to visit the country earlier this year by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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There is a growing danger of a rapid increase of violent Buddhist nationalism, notably in Myanmar, which would be very dangerous.

One of my Myanmar friends stated what he believes is driving the recent escalation of tensions: “It’s easier for Buddhists and Chinese (or non-Muslims) to get along since we buy together in marketplaces and dine together in restaurants.” Muslims have their own halal food and retail establishments.’ Combined with hostile discourse, these everyday realities of human contact accentuate differences and cause frictions between individuals.

There are several fissures throughout the area, which in the past has experienced horrible ethnic conflict, and which might easily see a comeback of religious nationalism and an intensification of communal violence in the not-too-distant future.

This will eventually have an impact on people’s ideas of their own identities, a shift that will cause anxiety in many young men and women and may lead them to extremism or other forms of intolerance.

It will be critical in preventing the growth of communal violence and extremism to address these concerns of identity in a changing society (where identity is less likely to be imposed by religion).

In order to establish resilient, tolerant, and inclusive Southeast Asian civilizations, long-term strategies are required.

Did you know?: The Spread of Islam in Southeast Asia through the Trade Routes

The Silk Roads are among the most important routes in our collective history, and they are still in use today. The establishment of ties between east and west was made possible by the construction of these highways, which exposed varied regions to a variety of different ideas and ways of life. Notably, many of the world’s main religions, including Islam, were spread as a result of these contacts, which is noteworthy. Following the establishment of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century, the religion began to spread eastward through commerce, which was aided by the construction of the maritime Silk Roads.

  • This allowed them to control the East-West trade routes that ran over the maritime Silk Roads, which linked numerous key ports in eastern Asian countries together.
  • Due to these exchanges, Islam was able to spread even farther, reaching people living in significant coastal towns on the Indian Subcontinent and in China, as well as those living in more remote South-eastern islands such as modern Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • Historically, Muslim traders traveling from the Arabian Peninsula to China’s ports had to transit via these islands in the southern hemisphere through the maritime Silk Roads.
  • According to popular belief, some of these traders eventually moved in Indonesia and assimilated with the locals.
  • It is possible to see archeological evidence of Islam being practiced by monarchs in the 13th century by looking at tombstones inscribed with dates according to the Islamic year of Sumatran Kings from the 13th century.

Furthermore, during the 13th century, contacts between Muslim merchants and the local population, as well as trade through the Silk Roads between the southern Philippines and other neighboring regions such as Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia, aided in the spread of Islam among the local population in those regions.

  • Islam, like Buddhism, was assimilated into the existing cultural and religious influences of the Southeast Asian areas in a similar way.
  • Sri Lanka has an ancient monastic hospital system that dates back thousands of years.
  • The Khwarazm region and the Silk Roads are intertwined.
  • The spread of Buddhism throughout South and Southeast Asia as a result of trade routes.

Sayyid Bin Abu Ali, a true representative of intercultural relations throughout the Maritime Silk Roads, was recently honored. Thailand and the Silk Roads of the Maritime Silk Roads The Greeks Have a Foothold in Central Asia Routes of the Maritime Silk Routes in Central Asia

South Asia

Choose a region:.South Asia, for example South Asia is comprised of seven countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. South Asia is divided into four regions: the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean (see politicalmap). These nations, on the other hand, are not unified. Language and religious variations are two of the most significant factors contributing to the splits among the peoples of South Asia. Languages In South Asia, dozens of different languages are spoken.

  • In addition, every country in South Asia, with the exception of the Maldives, has a significant number of linguistic minorities.
  • In India’s intellectual elite, English is widely spoken, as it was the language of the region’s previous colonial overlords when it was first introduced.
  • As a compromise, the Indian government agreed to keep English as the country’s official language for the foreseeable future.
  • In Pakistan, the majority of people speak five different languages.
  • It should be noted that Urdu, the officially recognized national language, is only spoken by around 8% of the population.
  • Although Nepalese has been declared as the official national language, the country is home to more than twenty other languages that are spoken.
  • Bhutan has a diverse population of people who speak a number of languages.

In government, English is the most widely spoken language.

The Maldives are also home to speakers of English and a few Indian languages.

When people do not speak the same language, it is frequently difficult for them to communicate with one another.

Religions Religion, like language, has also caused divisions among the people of South Asia.

The chart below depicts the various religions practiced in South Asia, as well as the percentage of the region’s more than 1.29 billion people who adhere to each of them.

Hindus have a plethora of God representations from which they can choose to worship.

For Hindus, there is no single path that leads to salvation.

Hinduism provides an explanation for the inequalities that exist in human society through the doctrine of karma and the caste system.

Islam teaches that there is only one god, whom we call Allah.

Muslims have one sacred text, theKoran,which was revealed to God’s final prophet, Mohammed.

Furthermore,Islam stresses the spiritual equality and brotherhood of all humanity.

Photo � 1999 Sikhism arose out of Hinduismas a reform movement in the 16th century.

Sikhs believe in theformless concept of God and suggest that the best way to salvationis living a good family life based on the principles of work, worship,and charity.

Buddhismis a religion that arose as a reform movement in Hinduism in the 5thcentury BCE.

To escape suffering, one musteliminate desire by following an eightfold path of spiritual and physicalpurification.

Photo:seated Buddha statue.

Christianityis practiced by Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant religioussects.

Religious diversity threatensthe unity of the different nations in South Asia because religiondefines people’s beliefs, values, and behaviors.

Muslims, on the other hand,are permitted by the Koran to have as many as four wives while Hindushave only one wife.

People’s religious differences also influencethe type of government they prefer to live under (seePolitics)and the laws they follow. In the sections onKashmir and thePunjabyou will read moreabout the problems the people in these areas have faced due to theirlinguistic

Religious Transitions in Twentieth Century Southeast Asia

Please select a region from the list below: South Asia South Asia is comprised of seven countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. South Asia is divided into four regions: the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and the Pacific (see politicalmap). These nations, on the other hand, are not a single entity. Differentiations in language and religion are the primary causes of conflict amongst the peoples of South Asia. Languages South Asia is home to a plethora of languages.

  • Furthermore, with the exception of the Maldives, all of the countries in South Asia contain language minorities.
  • In India’s intellectual elite, English is widely spoken, as it was the language of the region’s former colonial rulers.
  • India’s administration agreed to keep English as the country’s official language as a kind of compromise.
  • Most people in Pakistan speak five different languages.
  • 98 percent of the population in Bangladesh are fluent in Bangla language.
  • Government recognition for certain languages is something that ethnic minorities in Nepal are still attempting to obtain in the country.
  • Tamil is the language of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, whereas Sinhala is the language of the Sinhalese majority in the country.
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Dhivehi is the official language of the Maldives as well as its native language.

As a result, the majority of SouthAsian languages are firmly associated with certain nations, thus dividing the population from one another.

Because individuals utilize their language as their primary method of communicating their fundamental views, values, and sentiments, which are most usually linked to their religious heritages, a lack of communication is detrimental to the achievement of political unity.

Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Christianity are the primary faiths practiced on the subcontinent.

Most people in South Asia are Hindu, with the majority adhering to the faith.

As well as prophets and sacred writings, they have a large number of them.

When a person achieves enlightenment, Hindus believe that his or her soul may be reincarnated multiple times until finally becoming one with the cosmic energies and being annihilated.

Islam is the second most widely practiced religion in South Asia, behind Hinduism and Buddhism, respectively.

Muslims are those who adhere to the Islamic religion.

Muslims believe that each individual has just one opportunity at salvation, which is one life.

Photograph of a Muslim guy reading from the Koran.

In the 16th century, a reform movement within Hinduism gave rise to the religion of Sikhism.

Sikhs believe in a formless idea of God and think that maintaining a decent family life based on the principles of labor, worship, and charity is the most effective method to attain eternal salvation.

As a reform movement within Hinduism in the 5thcentury BCE, Buddhism evolved as a religion in its own right.

In order to be free of pain, one must first eliminate desire by pursuing an eight-step route of spiritual and bodily cleansing and transformation.

Buddha statue in a sitting position.

Christianity is a religion that originated around 2,000 years ago in Palestine among Jews who held the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God, the creator of all things, and thus the Savior of the world.

The Bible is regarded as hallowed text by all Christians.

For example, Hindus consider the cow to be sacrosanct, and riots have broken out when other religious groups butcher cows for sustenance.

In addition to influencing the form of government that people desire to live under (seePolitics), religious differences also have an impact on the laws that people follow.

In the sections on Kashmir and Punjab, you will learn more about the difficulties that the people of these regions have endured as a result of their linguistic differences.

Culture and Religion

(1)History. The learner gains an understanding of how geography and mechanisms of spatial interchange (diffusion) shaped historical events and contributed to the formation of the present. The student is expected to: (A)analyze the effects of physical and human geographic patterns and processes on the past and describe their impact on the present, including significant physical features and environmental conditions that influenced migration patterns and shaped the distribution of culture groups today; (B)analyze the effects of physical and human geographic patterns and processes on the present and describe their impact on the past; and (C)analyze the effects of physical and human geographic patterns and processes on the past and describe their impact on the present.

(B)trace the geographic diffusion of events like as the Columbian Exchange or the dissemination of American popular culture, and characterize the impact of these phenomena on the locations in which they occurred.

The student gains an understanding of how political, economic, and social forces influence cultural patterns and traits in different locations and areas.


In order to pass this course, the student must be able to:(A)describe distinctive cultural patterns and landscapes associated with different places in Texas, the United States, and other regions of world, as well as how these patterns influenced the processes of innovation and diffusion;(B)describe elements of culture such as language (including dialects), religion (including beliefs and customs), institutions, and technologies; and(C)describe elements of culture such as language (including dialects).


Women, ethnic and religious minorities, and other underrepresented populations are expected to:(A)describe and compare patterns of culture that distinguish specific regions of the world, such as language, religion, land use, education, and customs;(C)compare economic and political opportunities in different cultures for women, ethnic and religious minorities, and other underrepresented populations;(D)evaluate the experiences and contributions of diverse groups to multicultural societies.


As part of this course, the student will be expected to:(A)analyze cultural changes in specific regions caused by migrations, wars, commerce, technological advances and diffusion;(B)evaluate causes, effects, and perceptions of conflicts between groups of people, including modern genocides and terrorism; and(C)identify examples of cultures that preserve traditional ways of life, including traditional economies.

The left menu navigation will allow you to access all of the module materials after you have examined the module overview and TEKS alignment goals, as well as essential words and definitions.

Culture and Religion

Instead of any cultural unity within the area, Southeast Asia is distinguished more by its disparities with neighboring countries than by any cultural unity inside the region. Several nations in this area have greater internal cultural variety than several major international cultural regions, like the United States and Europe. As a matter of fact, Indonesia may be considered a cultural area unto itself in many respects. In addition, the region’s hundreds of islands frequently have their own distinct languages and cultural groupings that are not linked to those found in other sections of the island – much alone those found in other parts of the region.

To begin with, practically every major global religion may be found in some form or another in this region to a large degree.

In addition, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and many of the Chinese faiths may all be found in this region, frequently coexisting more amicably with one another than they do in other regions of the world.

In Southeast Asia, people like to put their own distinct cultural spin on faiths, and they may even establish their own individual branches of a religion.

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