The meaning behind religious symbols
The following religious symbols are instantly recognizable. But behind each is a story, one that expresses moral values and a religion's teachings.
The Star of David (Judaism)
The six points on the Jewish Star of David serve to protect Jews from six directions: North, South, East, West, up, and down. Some believe the triangles, displayed in blue on the Israeli flag, represent the relationship between God and the Jewish people.
No matter what the technical meaning, the Star of David symbolizes a relationship, whether it is with God, a struggle within the self, or with outside forces.
The Cross (Christianity)
The cross is a key symbol of the Christian faith. It represents the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on, and therefore the importance of his death. The cross symbolizes Christ himself, as well as the faith of Christians.
A crucifix is a cross with the representation of Christ displayed on it — many Christians choose to wear a crucifix around their neck, or display one in their home
The Crescent Moon and Star (Islam)
The crescent of the new moon signifies the beginning and end of fasting during Ramadan. However, this symbol did not originate with Islam; it was adopted for the first time by the city of Byzantine (which later became Istanbul).
While the Ottoman Empire ruled the Muslim world, the star and crescent was adopted as the symbol of Islam. However, not all Muslims consider the crescent and star to be an Islamic symbol.
Dharma wheel (Buddhism)
The dharma wheel symbolizes the teachings of Buddha, who prompted followers to think of it as the "wheel of transformation." Displayed on the flag of India, the eight spokes on the wheel represent the eight teachings set out by Buddha.The motion of the wheel represents rapid spiritual change, as well as rebirth, an important lesson of Buddhism. The middle of the wheel is the hub, which represents stability and moral discipline. The rim represents training in concentration, which holds everything together.
This symbol derives its name from a double-edged sword, shown in the middle of the symbol. This sword represents divine knowledge, the power of God, and the divide between truth and falsehood.
The circle that surrounds the sword has no beginning and no end, representing God. The two curved swords on the outside of the circle represent the fact that a Sikh must give equal authority to spiritual and social obligations.
The word "om" comes from Sanskrit, and means the sound from which the Earth was created.
It symbolizes expansion, and is shown through the image of the omkar, consisting of four parts that represent four states of human awareness: ordinary waking, deep sleep, the dream state, and the awakened state. It is an important Hindu symbol.
Viewpoint and Analysis
- IN DEPTHFaith-based schools
- The idea that dominated the Ontario election
- ARTSGeez, please
- Not your average Christian magazine
- CBC RADIOTapestry
- A weekly exploration of spirituality, religion and the search for meaning
As a Muslim, I feel inundated by sound bites from both sides of the fence. Islam is "the fastest growing religion" and a "religion of peace." Alternatively, I hear the terms "Islamofascist," "East vs. West" — the list goes on and on.
My first name, Gurjung, connects two ideas — gur is the beginning of the word guru, and jung means conflict or struggle. So, put together, Gurjung is the conflict/struggle of life with the Gurus' teachings to guide.
In that moment, I got to see a glimpse of the godness of God — absolutely huge, mysteriously holding all of reality, powerfully sovereign over all things, providentially moving and loving it all.
To be a Canadian Hindu to me means to take nothing as absolute truth. Dharma, the social good, is necessarily dynamic and adapts to suit every society.
The rich history of Judaism is a compelling story. I wonder how we survived both internal strife and external threats. The story of Joseph is an example of the former and the Holocaust the latter.
Because the Dharma is so pervasive and eternal, it covers all situations. There is nothing on the news, in society, or in science that could ever bring doubt to my beliefs.
We were raised in the depths of the reserve by an Ojibwa father and a white mother. Sometimes that Sunday ritual of self-understanding and spiritual exposure meant going to a place called "the Lodge" almost right after church.
Our Radio Reports
"By reading the descriptions of different religions, it appears the intent of 'religion' is to better ourselves, give answers and, most importantly, find peace within. If that really is the case, then can believing in a god do us any harm?" — Chris, Saskatchewan
"One thing I hope for is that people keep asking God their hardest questions." — Geoff Rousseau