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Faith Symbols

The pages in this section describe major faiths - their origin, faith symbols, festivals, etc.

Introduction of Religions: an useful link:

http://www.multifaithcentre.org/

Faith Symbols

Do you know what the symbols of different faiths signify?

Here is a handy guide.

Bahá'I

A simple nine-pointed star is the Bahá'i faith symbol. The number nine has a lot of significance in the Bahá'i revelation. Nine years after the announcement of the Báb in Shiraz in Iran, Bahá'u'llah received intimation of His mission in a dungeon in Tehran.

Nine is the highest single-digit number and when used in the faith symbol, it represents fulfilment and completeness.

The significance of the number nine is that in Arabic each letter has a numerical value and Baha - in fact the letters B H and A have a combined numerical value of nine. The  Bahá'i administrative system is based on elected assemblies each comprising nine people at local and national and also the international level - in Bahá'i scripture Baha'u'llah refers to believers "to the number of Baha", i.e. 9.

The Arabic calligraphy in the middle translates as "O Glory of the All Glorious".  This symbol can be seen in Bahá'i homes and places of Bahá'i activity.

Brahma Kumaris

The Brahma Kumaris symbol is the point with rays, which represents God as a  point of light, a point of consciousness. Brahma Kumaris see God as being without  a physical form, and as a unique being who is the Father and Mother 
of all souls. The Supreme Soul, that is the one soul who remains beyond 
birth and death and is supreme not in size but in qualities- 
unlimited in peace, love and power, The Supreme Father of all souls. 
He is also known as Shiva - the benevolent One, the Point and the Seed.
The point image also represents Brahma Kumaris' spiritual identity - the point of  consciousness which is their true spiritual identity. It is used as a 
focus for meditation as it is a reminder of the journey inwards to 
discover the self - to awaken to who we are. Brahma Kumaris believe that when this is done, they can  connect ( have yoga with ) the Shiv Baba, the One who is always Soul  Conscious  - awake to His true identity.

Buddhism

The Buddhist faith symbol is called the Wheel of the Dharma. Dharma means "The Truth" and "A Way of Life". The eight spokes of the Wheel represent the Noble Eightfold Path: Right Understanding; Right Thought;  Right Speech; Right action; Right Livelihood; Right Effort; Right Concentration or Right Meditation.

Buddhists believe that anyone who follows the Eightfold Path will attain great happiness.

Christianity

The Cross is the most important Christian symbol. Jesus, who founded Christianity, died on a Cross. The empty Cross symbolises the risen Christ. Some Christians wear a cross or crucifix around their necks. The Cross reminds Christians of God's love for people.

Hinduism

OM (also written in the roman alphabet as AUM) is a very sacred syllable for Hindus.  The symbol provides Hindus with a visual focus on God, and the sound is believed to be the primal vibration of the whole universe.  Hindus explain that the three sounds which make up AUM represent God as creator, preserver and destroyer.  OM (AUM) is the first word of ancient prayers and the syllable is chanted in meditation.

Islam 

The Crescent Moon and Star, the faith symbol of Islam, originated from the Middle East.  The Moon and the Star represent a Muslim's guide through life (The different phases of the moon represent phases in life and travellers in the desert and sea at night usually to refer to the stars for directions). The Crescent was adopted as part of the symbol in the 14th Century.

Muslims follow the Lunar calendar. The Crescent marks the beginning of each new month in the Islamic calendar. The sighting of the new Moon is important as all the religious and historical dates are commemorated according to the Lunar dates.

The sighting is done more proactively to mark the  beginning of the  fasting month of Ramadan and the last month in the Islamic calendar known as  Zul-Hijjah, as during this month  the Muslim pilgrimage known as Hajj is performed.

The star in the symbol always has five corners. They denote the five fundamentals also known as the 5 Pillars of Islam namely;

  1. Shahada (declaration of belief in the Oneness of God and in the prophethood of Muhammad)
  2. Salaat (Prayers (5 ritual prayers daily during set time spans)
  3. Siyaam (Fasting (daily from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan)
  4. Zakaat (annual distribution of 2.5% of one savings to the needy)
  5. Hajj (once in a lifetime journey to perform the pilgrimage in Makkah).

Many mosques in Muslim countries have this symbol above the domes. The symbol also appears on the flag of some Muslim countries.

Jainism

The Jain symbol is the raised hand, signifying "Stop". In the middle of the wheel is the word "Ahimsa", meaning non-violence.

The raised hand reminds people to stop and think carefully before doing anything, so that the action does not hurt anyone.

The wheel shows that if we carry on violent activities, we will keep doing through the cycles of birth and death, just as the wheel keeps going round and round.

Judaism

The faith symbol of Judaism is The Menorah, which represents the original seven-branched candelabrum of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. The seven-branched candlestick represents the Seven days of Creation. It also symbolises the presence of God.

The Menorah has a very significant place in Jewish art.

The original Menorah was lit daily in the ancient temple, until the destruction of the temple by the Romans around 70CE. It did not hold candles. Each branch had a well, containing oil and a wick.

At the annual festival of Hanukkah, a nine-branched candlestick, called a Hanukiah or Hanukkah Menorah is used.

Sikhism

The Sikh symbol, called the Khanda, is made up of three parts. In the centre is a double-edged sword. Its right edge stands for moral and spiritual values and the left edge symbolises divine justice.  The circle, which has no beginning and no end, reminds all Sikhs that there is one God who is timeless and absolute. The two swords or kirpans stand for spiritual authority and political power. The two swords remind Sikhs that spiritual matters are as important as their obligations to society.

The Khanda appears inside and on flags (Nishan Sahib) outside Gurdwaras.

Zoroastrianism

The Zoroastrian winged symbol is called Fravashi. The term Fravashi means the Guardian Spirit of Ahura Mazda. Ahura Mazda is the Wise Lord or the Lord of Truth, Wisdom and Light. Zoroastrians believe that all humans have a Guardian Spirit or Fravashi. The Fravashi is depicted artistically as a half human - half bird winged figure with its right hand pointed upwards (towards heaven) while its left hand holds the ring of divine kingship. Fravashis are also believed to be the spiritual protectors of humans who, when in difficulty, can invoke them.


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