While every nation on our planet is filled with diversity, every member of the Earth’s human population has one thing in common: we all believe in something. The following is a brief introduction to the top six world religions, ordered by adherence (number of members).
A monotheistic (meaning the belief in one god) religion whose beliefs are centred around God and the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Main subgroups: Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism.
Religious text(s): the Holy Bible.
A monotheistic religion whose beliefs are centred around submission or surrender to Allah (God) and the teachings of Muhammad.
Main Subgroups: Sunni, Shiite (Shi’ite), Sufis, Druze, Ahmadiyya.
Religious text(s): the Koran (Qur’an).
A religion with multiple deities, such as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, which is founded upon the belief in reincarnation and various aspects related to the cycle of rebirth and the liberation of self-realization.
Main Subgroups: Vaishnavism, Shaivism.
Religious text(s): Vedas (Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads), Itihasas (Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas), Tantras, Darshanas.
A religion that follows the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and is derived from the belief that human suffering is fueled by human desire, and can be extinguished if desire ceases, resulting in Nirvana (enlightenment), an end to the cycle of birth, life and death.
Main Subgroups: Mahayana, Theravada/Hinayana
Religious text(s): Sutras vary depending on location and subgroup; the Four Noble Truths (including the Eightfold Path)
A monotheistic religion founded by the guru Nanak, which is centred around a belief in reincarnation and the potential freedom that righteousness can give.
Religious text(s): Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
A monotheistic religion whose beliefs are centred around covenants made between God and His Children, the followers of Judaism.
Main Subgroups: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform.
Religious text(s): the Tanakh, the Talmud
Note: “traditional belief” religion categories in China and Africa, whose followers outnumber the participation of some of the religions on this list, have been omitted in this article as part of the top six world religions list.