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There is no single religion, whether universal or local, that does not have its own beliefs about the relationship between the body and God. This can be attributed to the relevance of different types of clothes that are used in these different religions. This paper will focus on three main denominations: Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.
The paper will also look at the different religious clothes that these three denominations have and the way they use them to practice their religion. The discussions will also compare the relevance of some of the common clothes that the three religions have.
Religious clothes and their importance in Christianity
Christianity is arguably the most dominant denomination in the world today. Christians believe that the body is a gift from God, thus it should be treated with respect. They also believe that there is a relationship between the thought system and the body. Christians believe that an idle body is free and easily manipulated by the devil.
They claim that the individual in question should have respectful thoughts about other people for the body to remain pure. Christians believe that the body withers away and the soul that was in the body goes back to God after the death of an individual. This might be the reason why Christians believe that the body is a temple of God because it holds the spirit, which is the breath of God (Price and www.abiblecommentary.com, 2010).
The history of Christianity shows that early Christians had several religious clothing. One such clothing is the veil. The veil among the early Christians was used to cover the head of a woman when in the temple. The veil was a way of humbling the woman before God and a show of respect towards the woman’s husband. In this day and age, there are some groups in Christianity who still find the veil relevant in prayer.
Even though there are a lot of controversies on the relevance of the veil among Christians, some of them still wear them. There are various groups of worshippers in Christianity, and some of these groups encourage their followers to wear the veil when they are praying. This is the case with Catholics where nuns wear a form of veil when they are in church.
Another type of clothing that the Christians have used in their worship rituals is the cloak. The early Christians used to wear the cloak as their everyday dress. However, Christians adopted this dressing as a religious kind of dressing. In this day and age, the cloak is used by the religious leaders in Christianity.
The cloak is a robe that the religious leaders wear on a daily basis. This cloak is very important for identification of the religious leaders in the institutions in question. It is also very possible that the religious leaders of this denomination are imitating the dressing sense of the time when Jesus Christ was born.
In Christ’s era, the men wore robes and the women had to wear veils. Price and www.abiblecommentary.com (2010) argue that the Christians of today might not know the relevance of these types of clothing, yet they still use them because they believe that the characters in the Bible also wore the same clothes.
Generally, Christianity is the most flexible religion when it comes to clothing. It does not offer serious repercussions for provocative dressing. This is unlike Islam that requires all its believers to conform to the religions dressing code. Today, many Christians do not feel like there is any connection between religious clothing and spirituality. There are religious leaders who have completely abandoned the religious robes and other pieces of clothing that they are expected to wear in favor of a suit.
Early Christians also had the peace Mala. This is a bracelet that showed respect to God. It was worn to mean that one was spiritual. This bracelet was not used to cover anything, but it acted as a form of identification for the spiritual people in the society. Today, there are some denominations that still use the peace Mala, for example the Catholics.
Religious clothes and their importance in Buddhist
The Buddhists also have their own beliefs on the importance of certain kinds of clothing in their religion. Unlike the Christians and Muslims, Buddhists do not use veils during their religious rituals. Many of the monks in this religion have completely shaved their heads. This is also true for the bhikkhunis, who are female Buddhist religious leaders. However, the Buddhists also have their own religious clothes.
One of the clothes that are common among the Buddhists is the robe cloth. This is a cloth that is used to cover the entire body. It is mostly used by the monks and the nuns. The robes are usually made from ‘pure’ cloths and their relevance is that they cover the entire body to make it pure. In the early days of the Buddhist religion, this robe was dyed and made to have a yellow orange color. Today, only one group of Buddhists still wears these types of robes, the Theravada monks.
Another piece of clothing that is used in this religion is the triple and five-fold robe. The robe is made up of the uttarasanga, antaravasaka, and sanghati. The uttarasanga robe always covers the right hand side of the individual wearing it. All the three mentioned robes are relevant in covering the body.
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Many Buddhist groups wear the robes in an attempt to be purified. They believe that some of these clothes also protect their body parts from evil. The monks also value the bathing cloth. This is a very important cloth to their religion because it is used to clean the body whenever the individual wants to.
The rice paddy is also very common cloth among the monks. This cloth covers parts of the body. It is made of strips of cloth, thus there are some body parts that might be left exposed. There are several monks who do not use all these robes. All the different types of clothes that the monks use are used to cover their entire bodies. They believe that the body is holy and must be kept that way. The monks use the robes to cover their bodies so that the devil does not cause them to stray (Strong, 2004).
The Buddhists also believe that there are some parts of the body that are unclean, thus they are unholy. One such part of the body is the feet. Many of them do not cover the feet. They walk barefoot because they believe that the foot itself is dirty. The Buddhists only cover body parts that they consider holy and clean (Mrozik, 2007).
The Buddhists believe in life after death. They believe that there is no need for the body if it has no soul. Strong (2004) explains that according to this religion, the soul is the part that thinks. Therefore, Buddhists claim that the body is a husk that holds the soul in it. The soul becomes free and the body becomes meaningless when one dies.
This is explained as the reason behind the practice of cremating the dead among Buddhists. The Buddhists express their faith by kneeling down in the temple towards the statues of the Buddha. They also believe, like the Christians, that emotions cannot be separated from the body. Their religion allows them to wear decently in order to think decently. This, in turn, helps them keep their bodies clean.
Religious clothes and their importance in Islam
Islam is arguably the most conservative religion among the three religions that are discussed in this paper. The relevance of clothing, the body parts they cover, and the ways they are used in their religion are very important. The women are required to wear specific clothes in order to cover several parts of their body.
One such clothing is the Hijab. This is a piece of clothing that covers the head of a Muslim woman. Different Islamic groups have different rules on how the women should wear the Hijab. Generally the cloth is supposed to cover the hair completely. The women also wear a robe kind of clothing. This type of clothing has different names in different places. However, the Islam religion requires the women to show modesty in their clothing (Hawting, 2000).
The women can also wear the Nijab. This is a type of Hijab that covers the entire face. Only the eyes are visible when the women wear the Nijab. Many Muslim women do not wear the Nijab because it has no religious significance. It is, however, used to ward off molesters (Esposito, 2004).
The men, on the other hand, wear the dishdasha. These are dress-like clothes that also cover their entire body. The cloth is loose and white in color. However, in some regions, the men are allowed to wear dishdasha’s that have various colors. This cloth is seen as pure because the prophet Muhammad also wore it (Ali & Leaman, 2007).
The men also have to wear a hat. This is a tiny hat that covers the center of the head (Williams, 2008). The hat is important when they are in the mosque. It is, however, not wrong for a Muslim man to wear the hat outside the mosque.
The Muslims believe that the human body should also be preserved in its purest form. This is why Muslims refuse their dead to be taken to morgues. Their religion requires them to bury their dead in not more than a day after they have passed on. Muslims believe that putting the body of the deceased in a morgue tampers with its purity.
They also believe in life after death. The Muslims believe that the body of the deceased remains on the earth and withers away, but the spirit or the soul is still alive. Ali and Leaman (2007) explain that there are some Muslim groups that believe that the person is still able to feel pain after death, even though the body has withered away. These groups of Muslims believe that the wrong things that individuals do before they die hurt them when they are in the grave.
Among the discussed religious groups, it is only the Muslims who believe that thinking continues even after the body has withered. The Muslims believe that the body is still present but without a soul when a person dies. Muslims never speak ill of the dead. They know that the body is also very important for their religion because they use it to express their faith. Muslims bow, kneel, and stand up as they chant their prayers (Ali & Leaman, 2007).
The fact that Muslims have an entire month of fasting shows that they would do anything to ensure that their bodies are clean, holy, and pure according to the requirements of their religion. This religious group, like the rest, also believes that emotions are inseparable from the body.
It is important to note that all these three religions have their own clothes that they use for worship. Despite the fact that these clothes are different, all the three religious groups believe they have to also use the right clothing for their worship to be genuine. Among the three religions, Christianity has the least restrictions when it comes to dressing. Many Christians do not follow a specific dressing culture. However, the clergy of this religious group have their own religious clothing.
The other two religious groups mentioned wear their religious clothes in order to keep their bodies pure. The Buddhists and the Muslims both wear robes. The robes are different, but their purpose is similar. The three religions also have a similar use of the peace Mala. The early believers of these three religious groups used these bracelets to identify themselves as religious people. They also believed that the bracelet would protect them from evil.
Muslims, being the most conservative of the three religious groups, place a lot of value on their dressing. They also have specific pieces of clothes that are used during prayers. The prayer mat is one of the most important clothes to any Muslim. They kneel on the mat when they are praying.
Many of the Muslims do not wear these religious clothes alone. It is common to find that they wear other types of clothes beneath the religious clothes. It is not only the Muslims who have modified their religious clothing, but the Buddhists have also modified their clothing.
Most religious groups have associated dressing with spirituality. It is, however, important to note that the early believers of these religious groups were more convinced in the importance of covering several parts of the body. The believers of today have either abandoned their religious clothing completely, or they have modified it. This can be attributed to the effect of fashion on religion. From the discussion presented, all the three religions use robes as a form of religious clothing.
However, in Christianity, the robes are nowadays specific to the clergy. Muslims and Buddhists still wear religious robes. The robes differ in terms of color and how they are wrapped around the body. The three religions also have jewelry that accompanies the clothes. One such common jewelry is the peace Mala that was used to identify the religious people among Christians.
Ali, K., & Leaman, O. (2007). Islam: The key concepts. London, UK: Routledge
Esposito, J. (2004). Islam: The straight path. London, UK: Oxford University Press.
Hawting, G. R. (2000). The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661–750. New York, NY: Routledge.
Mrozik, S. (2007). Virtuous bodies: The physical dimensions of morality in Buddhist ethics. London, UK: Oxford University Press
Price, B., & www.abiblecommentary.com (2010). First Corinthians Bible commentary – a bible commentary on First Corinthians. Elkhart, IN, Brad Price.
Strong, J. S. (2004). Relics of the Buddha. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press
Williams, J. (2008). Islam: Understanding the history, beliefs, and culture. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc.