Introducing World Religions:
The eBook

Introducing World Religions Online:
Comprehensive Glossary of Terms

Term Definition


Narrative; traditional report that relates Prophet Muḥammad's words, deeds, or silent approval under various circumstances.


A seventeen-syllable poem in three lines of 5-7-5 format that developed in Japan


Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Minā, ٔArafāt, and Muzdalifah.


Legal material from the Talmud, Midrash, and later rabbinical writings; the sum total of religious law that defines the Jewish way of life.


Chinese dynasty lasting around four-hundred years (206 BCE - 220 CE); in the middle of this time Buddhist ideas from India came into China over the Silk Routes.

Hands of the Cause of God

People appointed by Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi to protect and propagate the Bahá’í message.


A monotheist who traced back to Ishmael and his mother Ḥājar; Prophet Muḥammad was considered as such.


Monkey character in the Hindu Rāmāyaṇa; he stands as an exemplar of great devotion and service to God due to his love of Rāma, which was so great that the deity's name became inscribed on his heart.

Har Krishan

(1656-1664) The eighth Sikh Gurū; became Gurū at age 5; healed people of smallpox, then caught the disease and died.

Har Rāi

(1630-1661) The seventh Sikh Gurū; maintained a Sikh army, but lived mostly in seclusion.


(1595-1644) The sixth Sikh Gurū; built the Akal Takhat; wore mīrī and pīrī (two swords).


Temple of God; the main Sikh temple, located in Amritsar, India; also called the Golden Temple.

Ḥasan and Ḥusayn

Sons of ٔAlī and Fāṭimah; Prophet Muḥammad's grandsons, revered by Shīٔahs as the rightful second and third caliphs after ٔAlī (who, in fact, served as the fourth caliph).


Name for the Lord used in the Tanakh.


Members of early Jewish tradition; Semitic language in which Jewish scriptures are written.


Japanese city established in 794 CE that forms the old part of today's Kyōto; it became the center of an aristocratic court, about which Murasaki Shikibu wrote ca. 1000 CE.


Adjective that refers to the culture of the Hellenes (Greeks).


Name of the era describing three centuries from the time of Alexander the Great to the end of the Roman Republic (336 - 31 BCE) covering lands influenced by Alexander's conquest. Describes a mixture of Hellenic (Greek) and West Asian (e.g., Persian) traditions.

Henry VIII

(r. 1509-1547) King of Englandwho rejected the pope's authority and effectively started the Anglican Church (Church of England).


The discipline of interpretation, often of scripture.


Not adhering to the orthodox or authoritative views of a tradition; examples are Jains and Buddhists who did not adhere to the Vedic traditions of their culture.


A figure made of six lines (whole or divided) stacked on one another. The Chinese Book of Changes is based on sixty-four of these.

hierophanic history

Term for an account of religious experiences of hierophany, as opposed to an account based in conventional history.


Manifestation of the sacred.


Cover; traditional clothing of Muslim women following the custom of women in Prophet Muḥammad's family; known as purdah in South Asia.


Migration; Muḥammad's migration from Mecca to Yathrib (Madīna) on Friday, July 16, 622 CE marks the formation of the Muslim community, and the start of the Islamic calendar as year 1 AH (Anno Hegirae).

Hildegard of Bingen

(1098-1179) Abbess of a community of religious women living under the Rule of Benedict; she wrote poetry, music, and accounts of her hierophanic experiences.

Hillel and Shammai

Two members of the Sanhedrin Supreme Court who headed two opposing "schools" around the time Jesus was growing up.


(1901-1989) Japanese emperor who was forced to publicly declares his humanity on January 1, 1946, after Japan was defeated in the Second World War.


A Native American ceremonial lodge.

Holy Trinity

Christian mystery of three divine persons in one God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

homo religiosus

Term meaning "man the religious."


A likeness between two or more things that have the same structure.

Hōnen and Shinran

A pair of Japanese Buddhists; the first (1133-1212) established the Pure Land sect (Jōdo-shū) in Japan; the second (1173-1261) studied with the first, and then established the True Pure Land sect (Jōdo Shinshū).


Divine Order; reading from the Ādi Granth chosen at random, which applies to one's situation in life that day or at that time.


Buddhist meditation in Korean practice that involves a focus on the question or key point of a kōan.

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