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Worldviews in Religions on the Aspect of Death and Afterlife Essay

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Updated: Nov 30th, 2021

Outline

The essay compares and contrasts the worldviews of Christianity, medieval Buddhist and Muslim on the aspect of death and afterlife and is covered as follows.

Introduction

Worldviews are the things that are thought and believed to be true and real. In determining ones worldview a number of things are considered. These include the prime reality, reality of the world around us, what the human beings are, the things that happen when a person dies, knowledge of right or wrong and the origin of human beings. These views affect the way human beings believe and behave, which in turn have consequences in the society (Exploring Christianity – truth.com, 2009). The Christians, Buddhists and Islam have worldviews that differ in various aspects while they are similar in others. This discussion therefore seeks to compare and contrast the aspect of the three religions.

Christianity view on death and afterlife

Christians generally believe in life after death, whether one had a good relationship with God or not, depending on the choices and actions one made in this world. Since the earthly body is made of materials that will eventually die, the soul goes to either hell for unbelievers or heaven for the believers, where they enjoy the presence of God and a life that is free from suffering and sin. In hell unbelievers or sinners will be subjected to severe punishment by eternal fire by the lord of sin and evil, Satan. However, views differ on the existence of hell and whether the punishment is spiritual or physical between denominations. Some like the Catholics believe in purgatory, a place that is temporary where the souls of Christians who died without confessing their sins will go until the prayers of the living deliver those (Medicapress, 1999 & Toropov & Buckles, 2004).

Christians generally believe that God will raise all the people at the end of time when Jesus Christ will come for the second time to judge the world. Those that were sinners and unbelievers in their life will be raised to be shamed and hated while the believers will be go to heaven with God for ever.

They also believe that Jesus Christ, son of God, was sent into the world to make all people believers and save them from sin by dying on the cross. Thus those who believe in him will be raised and taken to heaven where they will live forever (Exploring Christianity – truth.com, 2009).

Muslims view on death and afterlife

Like Christians, Muslims believe in life after death. They believe that people who die before Allah’s Day of Judgment are in barzakh or a state of waiting until that day. During the last day, God will open up all the graves of the Muslims and raise their bodies for the final judgment (Medicapress, 1999).

During this day a person’s good deeds will be weighed against his/her bad ones and if the good are heavier than the bad one goes to heaven and if the bad outweigh the good deeds a person will go to hell. Each person will then be forced to carry their sins on their backs and go over a bridge as a form of judgment. The people whose sins will be too great will fall into hell and those with lesser sin will be able to cross over to heaven. Here there is also a similarity with Christianity in that both believe in existence of hell and heaven.

In Muslim believes, heaven is described as a magnificent place of paradise and gardens of delight where good people will be served by beautiful and young virgins. Hell on the other hand, is described as a place of punishment like in the Christianity, where those condemned there will be subjected to hot winds, black smoke and boiling water (Schade, 2006).

Hindus view on death and afterlife

They believe in reincarnation, this is a constant cycle of rebirth. When one dies he/she is reborn in the next life where one bears the cost of his actions in the previous life- the Eastern Karma doctrine. This differs with the Christian and Muslim beliefs in the nature of the life after death.

Death is believed by Buddhists, just like Muslims and Christian as not an end to life rather as the end of the body people live in. According to Buddhists, after death the spirit seeks a new body to attach and inhabit. The life one lives in this new life and body is as a result of his good and bad things he/she did in the previous life or Karma. As a consequence of this one is reborn in one of the six realms; heaven, human beings, Asura, hungry ghost, animal and hell in order of severity of the karma. However one does not stay in one realm indefinitely or permanently (Toropov & Buckles, 2004).

The time of death for a Buddhist is also important. In order to prepare for a death that leads to a higher realm, they believe that one should prepare for the death by leading a responsible and compassionate life. Calmness and happiness and peaceful thoughts during the time of death will also lead a person to be reborn in a higher realm than in the present life and family members and a monk or nun can assist the dying in this process by chanting and praying at his death bed. After the last breath, the corpse is not touched for three to eight hours as they believe the spirit still lingers around the body. Touching might confuse and make it angry which will lead to rebirth in a lower realm. It is also treated gently and with respect as the spirit is also affected by what happens to the body. This again differs with both Muslim and Christianity believes as Muslims starts to prepare to bury their dead immediately just as in Christianity where once one dies, the spirit is believed to depart immediately (UrbanDharma.org, 2009).

Like the Muslims and Christians, they believe in a heaven that is full of happiness and peace without any suffering, but for the Buddhists there are 37 different levels of heaven.

Conclusion

Worldviews are the things that are thought and believed to be true and real. In Christians, Muslims and Buddhists worldviews on death are similar on some aspects while they differ on others. Similarities are on beliefs on life after death, existence of heaven and judgment on good and evil in Christianity and Muslims. Differences are on the particulars of these aspects such as nature of judgment, heaven and treatment of the body after death.

Reference list

Exploring Christianity – truth.com. (2009). Christianity. Web.

Medicapress. (1999). The Wordsworth encyclopedia of world religions. Wordsworth Editions.

Schade, J. P. (2006). Encyclopedia of World Religions. Foreign Media Group.

Toropov, B. & Buckles, L. (2004). The complete idiot’s guide to world religions. Alpha Books.

UrbanDharma.org. (2009). Buddhist view on Death and Rebirth.

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IvyPanda. "Worldviews in Religions on the Aspect of Death and Afterlife." November 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/worldviews-in-religions-on-the-aspect-of-death-and-afterlife/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Worldviews in Religions on the Aspect of Death and Afterlife." November 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/worldviews-in-religions-on-the-aspect-of-death-and-afterlife/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Worldviews in Religions on the Aspect of Death and Afterlife'. 30 November.

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