Introducing World Religions:
The eBook

Introducing World Religions Online:
Comprehensive Glossary of Terms

Term Definition


Cube-shaped shrine in Mecca, Arabia that is the focal point of Muslim pilgrimage and daily prayer.


Islamic dialectical theology, sometimes contrasted with Islamic philosophy.


(1192-1333) Japanese era of history known for its samurai; during this time Shintō shrines (jinja) and Buddhist temples (tera) were built in the same religious complexes.


Mysterious creative life energies that form the focus of Shintō worship; literally means high, above, lifted up.

Kami Way

(Japanese: kami no michi) Another name for Shintō.


Shintō home altar for use in kami worship; literally, kami shelf.


Action; actions of body, speech, and mind that bring effects in line with their causes; Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus have slightly different interpretations on the nature of such action.


Unique knowledge; the highest realization according to Jain teachings, after which a person becomes a siddha upon dying.


A person in the Jain tradition who has perfected knowledge, and thus will attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth.


Prophet Muḥammad's wife; first convert to Islam.


Order of Sikhs who wear the Five Ks instituted by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh on March 30, 1699.


Imaginal figure in the Qur'ān who appeared as a spiritual guide to Moses.

Khumayni, Ruḥallāh

(1902-1989) Iranian leader who took power amidst the revolt against the monarchic secular ruler Muḥammad Reza Pahlavi; became Supreme Ruler of Iran in 1979, adopting the title Imām.

Kindī, al-

Arab tutor (803-873) to the ٔAbbāsid caliph's son in Baghdad; researched medicine, mathematics, geography, astronomy, physics, and music; developed a vocabulary for Arab philosophy, and studied Indian mathematics.


(200s CE) High Priest in charge of the official Zoroastrian religion, and committed to its domination over other religions in Persia under Sassanid rule.


A Japanese Christian.

Kirkegaard, Søren

(1813-1855) A Christian existentialist philosopher who examined the paradox of the biblical patriarch Abraham's faith.


Sikh communal singing with music based on scriptural verses.


The Most Holy Book authored by Bahá’u’lláh; a book of laws that serves as a charter of the new Bahá’í world order.


Mental puzzle based on enlightened words and actions of Buddhist masters of the Meditation schools, especially Chan masters who lived during the Tang Dynasty (ca. 600-900) in China.


 Record of Ancient Matters; earliest surviving Shintō book (completed in 712 CE).


Nativism or national learning; a literary-philological cultural movement from the Tokugawa era (1603-1867) dedicated to understanding and restoring the kokutai (national essence) of Japan.


National essence or national polity; ideology promoted during the Meiji era (1868-1912) in Japan to justify the establishment of State Shintō.


(551-479) Founder of the Confucian tradition; revalorized the meaning of some ancient Chinese concepts (such as jun-zi, li), and emphasized the importance of education and development of one's character.


Manifestation of power that has yet to be counted as sacred, such as a tsunami storm.


Name of an immensely popular Hindu deity who appears as the warrior Arjuna's charioteer in the Bhagavadgītā; one of Viṣṇu's ten avatāras.


A person of the warrior or ruling class in ancient India according to Vedic teachings; contemporary Hindus still abide by such notions of caste.


Disbelief or denial of God; a major offense in Islam because it shows ungratefulness to Allāh.

Kūkai and Milarepa

A pair of tantric Buddhists; the first (774-835) founded the Shingon school from Japan; the second (1040-1135) founded the Kagyu school in Tibet.


A form of the Hindu goddess imagined as a snake thrice-coiled at the base of the spine to be awakened in meditation by Śākta yogīs.


Field in North India upon which the action of the Bhagavadgītā takes place; where the Mahābhārata war was fought.

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