Religion is a cultural system of beliefs and practices that are based upon man's place in the universe, often addressed through relationships with one or many deities.
This page will describe all the major religions of the world in Ninety-Five Theses.
The Roman Catholic Church presents itself as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and the continuation of the church established by Christ himself through St. Peter. Following the Schism which saw Eastern Orthodoxy break away from the church, the Pope established his position as above any temporal ruler. In Rome, the Basileus would appoint the Patriarch, however the Pope had no such imperial master. The Papal Throne adopted the styles and prestige of the Roman Emperors and set itself above secular Kings. During the 16th century corruption within the church had driven many communities to open revolt against the Holy See, risking the very status of the Pope's authority as the Vicar of Christ. As of 1528 Catholicism is the dominant faith in Europe with most Christians in Europe being Catholic. As the Evangelical Reformation progresses their numbers may drop, however they remain the dominant form of Christianity.
Following the Schism that led to the split from the See of Rome, a Greek Orthodox Church was formed with the backing of the Eastern Roman Emperors. The word Caeseropapism was used to describe the relation between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Emperor and translates to Emperor above Pope. With the Emperor appointing the head of the church very few conflicts arose between the head of faith and head of state, unlike the Pope who would regularly attempt to rule over the Kings of Europe. The church would be all but forgotten as the Byzantines fell to the Ottoman Empire, however it survives in the Russian region. Seeking a faith for their people after shaking off Mongol rule, the Russians adopted the Greek Orthodox form of worship, even going so far as to have their Tsar marry the niece of the last Eastern Roman Empire. This illusion of Russia as the third Rome is established through the church.
The largest branch of Islam and a continuation of the original faith, Sunni Islam holds Muhammad's father-in-law's ascension as Caliph to be legitimate. This has led to it often being referred to as, "orthodox Islam". In the 16th century Sunni Islam was enjoying mixed successes following centuries of strong, centralized caliphates. The head of the Sunni faith is the Caliph who styles himself as the successor to the Prophet Muhammad. The current Caliph is Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman Sultan. Though Sunni Islam has a theocratic head, homage from independent Sunni realms is entirely dependent on the international relations between the Ottomans and the realm in question.
Islam has five articles of faith known as the five pillars of Islam. These are Shahada (Declaration of Faith), Salat (Daily prayer), Zakat (Charity), Sawm (Fasting during Ramadan) and Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca). Through adherence to these pillars a Muslim may live their life in submission to God.
As of 1528 the following realms have a major Sunni population, or have their official faith as Sunni Islam:
Ottoman Empire - Official Faith of the Empire, Sovereign is Head of Religion.
Mughal Empire - Faith of the Emperor, large Sunni population.
Shi'a Islam follows an alternate tradition of leadership after the death of Muhammad, denouncing the Caliph as the head of Islam and instead following the occulated Grand Imam Al-Mahdi. This Mahdi will one day return to reunite all of Islam, according to Shi'a tradition. The Shi'a also have different traditions of Hadith, or interpretations of the Koran, as well as their own branches of Muslim theology and Sharia law.
The following nations have large Shi'a population, or have Shi'a Islam as the official religion:
The most ancient form of Buddhism, Theravada is the dominant school in southeast Asian nations such as Ayutthaya, Lan Xang, the Khmer Empire, Pegu, and also in Sri Lanka.
Its name translates to "Doctrine of the Elders," and it centers around the Pali scriptures, transcribed from the oral tradition taught by the Buddha. By studying these ancient texts, meditating, and following the Noble Eightfold Path, Theravada Buddhists believe they will achieve Enlightenment. Strong emphasis is also placed on the monastic community and on heeding the advice of the wise.
The Tibetan Buddhist schools, based on the lineages and textual traditions of the Kangyur and Tengyur of Tibet, are found in Tibet,Bhutan, northern India, Nepal, southwestern and northern China, Mongolia and various constituent republics of Russia that are adjacent to the area, such as Amur Oblast, Buryatia, Chita Oblast, the Tuva Republic and Khabarovsk Krai. Tibetan Buddhism is also the main religion in Kalmykia.
The Maldivian Buddhist schools are based on a mix of Tibetan Buddhism and Sunni Islam. The new religious head of the schools is the court appointed Buddhist Leader of Maldives.
Belief in Mwari
Mwari is the Supreme Creator of the Shona and Northern and Southern Ndebele, and is worshiped in the traditional religion. The majority of their followers are concentrated in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Mwari is an omnipotent being, who rules over spirits and is the Supreme God of the religion. Mwari's reverence dates back to the age of the ancient king Monomotapa, of the Mutapa Kingdom on the Zambezi River.
Mwari is seen as a kind and loving God. Mwari is not only the God of creation, but also of land fertility and blessing rains. Mwari is the one who controls the forces of Earth, from the fortune of journeys to social and political events. Though the Shona and the Ndebele often pray to Mwari alone, it is also very common for the use of spirit mediums to be employed. The most significant of these is the Oracle, a female who inhabits a cave.
While no nation held Judaism as the state religion, Jews were prominent in 16th century society, especially amongst the burghers of Venice and Genoa. Nations such as Spain actively expelled Jewish populations leading to various diasporas rising up, especially in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. An exiled people, many Jews who settled during this era brought with them vast wealth and trade connections to various Mediterranean ports. Venice particularly worked against the faith, forcing their Jewish population, despite their value, to live in ghettos. England praised Spain for their expulsion of the Jews, making it clear that they, unlike Christians, were not as strong or as worthy to live in Christendom.
There are also many Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire, who are protected in individual millets with the addition of paying the Jizya tax.