Coming from an African background I have seen, experienced and studied a wide array of religious beliefs. I will start with my tribe which is the Krios of Sierra Leone. We are descendants of freed slaves that were emancipated in the 18th century and resettled in a city created specifically for freed slaves called Freetown. Since Sierra Leone was colonised by the British we adopted their ways of life, religion, culture and also names. Therefore we adopted Christianity of which I am of the Anglican denomination.
On the other hand Sierra Leone also has at least 13 other tribes and they have different beliefs ranging from Islam to traditional indigenous beliefs such as praying to objects, idols and elements of the sea, air and land. In fact Sierra Leone is almost 60% Muslim . This has led me to analyze religion from different angles and while I believe in my religion of Christianity I also respect other people’s beliefs because it is what or whom you perceive as the creator and protector of yourself and that defines your mysticism.
I believe that religion is defined by ones experiences and ones upbringing especially tradition, in other words if your parents, grandparents and great grand parents were Muslim s there is a very high percentage that you may become Muslim also except if there is a dramatic life altering experience that you may change religions.
I believe that humans also tend to look for comfort and guidance from an entity not of the physical world but one that we believe and hope exists in another dimension that we cannot see. Humans also tend to use an object such as an idol or stone or carving as a way of communicating which what we perceive as our “God” or creator. I see similarities in Christianity in the alter, in Muslim s in praying facing the east, in Budism in praying to the Budha and Hindi in praying to the cow.
I Sierra Leone animism and ancestor worship is also common, some people practice dual religions for examples a lot of Muslim s would still practice ancient traditional African religions such as Juju, Bondo for women and Poro for men. They believe that a soul or spirit lives in various objects that they would use to pray and meditate on. I personally do not believe in such practices because I am christian but these are very strong believes in Africa and I also believe in Haiti.
In religions in Asia and also some in Africa people believe in reincarnation which means that we do not truly die, we come back to life and exist in some other form and that gives us a chance to better ourselves and correct our mistakes of a previous life. I personally find that hard to believe but people
have talked about having deja vous or rather experiencing events from another time exactly as it happened. This Belief of course contradicts with my Christian beliefs because Christians believe that there is a judgement day where every singe person will be judged according to how they lived their lives and based on their track record would either go to heaven or hell.
I believe that at one point in history Islam and Christianity was one religion. They split up into two religions with the coming of Christ and the prophet Mohammed. There are multiple similarities in the bible and in the koran that are referenced by priests and Imans all the time, they always reference events from the old testament in both religions that are exactly the same. Also the fact that both religions find Jerusalem in Israel to be a sacred city is not a coincidence.
One constant you will find in every religion on earth is prayer, prayer I believe is a state of mind, it is a way to talk and communicate to our creator or conduit to our creator. It is based on faith, if we believe that our creator can hear us then we use prayer to communicate with him/her or it. This is how we as humans build a relationship with our “God” and communicate with the spiritual realm. Prayer allows our “God” to be our point of reference in the midst of all the confusions of our daily lives and therefore prayer acts as a comforter and eraser of problems.
Personally I believe in a creator which is God almighty and I also believe that Jesus Christ (his son) exists and came to earth to forgive our sins. I also plan on teaching my offspring my religious beliefs as they were taught to me as a child. On the other hand if my children decide to choose another religious belief I will not stop them and I would support them in their decision.