Just the facts on religion.

Glossary of Religion

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Shemot
(Hebrew "names"). The Hebrew name for Exodus, the second book of the Torah.
Sabbath
The Jewish day of rest from Friday at sunset to Saturday at sunset.
Sabellianism
Modalist belief system attributed to Sabellius, in which God consists of a single person who reveals himself in different modes. Thus the Son is divine and the same as the Father. Essentially synonymous with patripassianism and modalist monarchianism.
sacrament
A solemn Christian ritual believed to be a means of grace, a sign of faith, or obedience to Christ's commands. The Anglican catechism defines a sacrament as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace...ordained by Christ himself." In the Catholic and Orthodox churches, there are seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, the eucharist (communion), penance, extreme unction, ordination and marriage. In Protestant churches, only baptism and the eucharist are regarded as sacraments.
sadhu
A holy man who has renounced the material world to devote himself to spiritual practice. He wanders from place to place and owns nothing. A female sadhu is a sadhvi.
salat
(Arabic, "prayer") Ritual prayer performed five times per day facing the direction (qibla) of Mecca.
Sama Veda
Liturgical Hindu text
samadhi
(Sanskrit) State of deep meditation.
samsara
(Sanskrit, Pali "wandering"). The cycle of death and rebirth.
samu
(Japanese, "work service"). Physical work performed at set times in Zen monasteries.
samudaya
Second of the Four Noble Truths: Suffering is caused by desire.
samyama
In yoga, movement from meditative concentration into total mental absorption.
sanatana dharma
("everlasting truth"). Hindu word for Hinduism.
sandek
The "Jewish godfather": the man who holds the baby boy during the rite of circumcision.
sanjiao
"three teachings." Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The phrase originated in 9th-century China.
sawm
(Arabic, "fasting," also spelled siyam). Religious fasting, especially during the month of Ramadan, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
sa'y
Ritual of running seven times between two low hills in Mecca during the hajj, representing Hagar's search for water.
Scholar (Chinese)
Often used as a symbol of Confucianism.
Scholasticism
(from Latin scholastici, "schoolmen"). "The medieval movement, flourishing in the period 1200-1500, which placed emphasis upon the rational justification of religious belief and the systematic presentation of those beliefs." (McGrath, 34)
Second Temple
The Temple in Jerusalem that was rebuilt in 516 BCE after the Babylonian Exile and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
see
(from Latin, "seat"). City in which a bishop's cathedral is located.
Sephardic
Jews from the Middle East and Spain and their descendents.
sermon
A message delivered to laypeople for their edification.
shahada
("testimony" or "witness"). The profession of faith that "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God," which is the only requirement for joining the Muslim community. As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, it must be spoken aloud with full understanding and faith at least once in one's lifetime. It is also included in the call to prayer, most ritual prayers, and is recited at death.
Shakti
The Great Goddess and consort of Shiva. Her many forms include Durga, Kali and Amba.
shalom
Jewish greeting meaning "hello," "goodbye," or "peace."
Shari'a
Islamic law, both political and religious.
shekhinah
The presence of God; the Holy Spirit. In Kabbalistic thought, the feminine aspect of God.
Sheol
Grave; world of the dead.
Shiva
("auspicious"). Major deity and the third in the Hindu trinity (with Brahma and Vishnu). Shiva has roots in the pre-Vedic period, there associated with the god Rudra. To Saivities, Shiva is creator, preserver and destroyer, and the supreme deity.
shochet
Kosher butcher.
shu
(Chinese) reciprocity
shunning
In a religious context, a formal decision by a denomination or congregation to cease all interaction with an individual or a group.
siddur
(Hebrew, "order"). Prayer book used in Jewish liturgy.
sila
(Sanskrit, Pali, "precepts"). Basic obligations that Buddhists undertake. Monks and nuns adhere to all ten; laypersons to the first five sila. The ten precepts are to abstain from: harming a living being; taking anything not given; sensual misconduct; false speech; intoxication; solid food after midday; frivolous entertainments; perfumes and jewelry; raised beds; and involvement with money.
simcha
(Hebrew, "rejoicing"). Any Jewish celebration.
skandha
(Sanskrit; Pali, khandha, "group"). The five aggregates that make up human appearance: material composition; sensations; perceptions; mental formations; and consciousness. These are impermanent, constantly changing, and do not constitute a "self."
smrti
("remembered"). Scriptures of human origin (as opposed to sruti) but highly regarded and authoritative.
sola fide
(Latin, "faith alone"). Martin Luther's doctrine that faith is all that is necessary for salvation. It remains a core doctrine for many Protestants today.
sola scriptura
(Latin, "scripture alone"). Martin Luther's doctrine that Scripture is the only authority for Christians (i.e., church tradition and papal doctrine are unnecessary and inferior to direct reading of the Scripture).
Son of Man
Title used 81 times by Jesus to refer to himself in the Gospels, but never by anyone else. The term may derive from the eschatological figure of Daniel 7 or may have been intended to refer to his humanity.
soteriology
Branch of Christian theology dealing with salvation.
spiritual being
A supernatural or non-physical being, such as a god, goddess, demon, angel, or jinn.
sruti
("heard"). Divinely revealed scriptures, as opposed to sruti ("remembered"), which are of human origin.
stations of the cross
Series of 14 events in the Passion of Christ, beginning with his condemnation and ending with his body being laid in the tomb. The stations are a popular subject of public and private devotion in Catholicism, especially during Lent.
stigmatist
A person who exhibits the stigmata (miraculous wounds of Christ).
stupa
(Sanskrit) Monument containing relics, usually of the Buddha.
subordinationism
Heretical belief in which the Son is lesser than the Father in divinity, rank or honor.
Sukkot
(Hebrew, "Booths"). Eight-day autumn festival commemorating the Exodus and celebrating the harvest.
Sunnah
("Tradition"). Record of the words and deeds of the Prophet. While not the Word of God on a level with the Qur'an, the Sunnah is regarded as inspired and authoritative.
surah
A chapter of the Qur'an.
sutra
(Sanskrit) Discourse or section of teachings.
svarodaya
The science of breath control in yoga.
swastika
(Sanskrit svastika, "all is well") Ancient symbol of good fortune and well-being, with a variety of uses and meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism and many other faiths.
synoptic gospels
(from Greek synopsis, "single view "). The New Testament books of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which offer similar views of the life of Christ and share some verbatim text. The Gospel of John has a unique perspective and seems to be independent of the synoptic gospels.

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