Audio Glossary: S

In Christianity "an outward and physical sign of an inward and spiritual grace". There are two sacraments ordained by Christ in the New Testament, Baptism and Holy Communion. There are a further five sacraments (Confirmation, Penance, Ordination, Matrimony and Unction or Anointing) accepted as such by the Roman Catholic Church and other churches.
A deed of kindness and charity (additional to Zakah).
Saint Paul
Biblical figure. Originally named Saul of Tarsus he was a fierce opponent of Christianity until he underwent a conversion and became an apostle, a great missionary and the writer of a number of letters contained in the Bible.
salah / salat
The obligatory prayers which Muslims pray five times daily, one of the five Pillars of Islam.
Central Christian belief that believers are saved from eternal damnation. They enjoy eternal life in the company of God.
According to Hinduism, the cycle of life in the world through a series of births, deaths and rebirths which have been caused by karma.
Any one of many rites of passage in Hinduism.
Within both Hinduism and Sikhism a holy person with a following of devotees.
Contentment, an important concept within Sikhism.
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The worship of Satan or other central figures from demonology.
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Sathya Sai Baba
A Hindu religious leader believed to be an incarnation of Shiva and his consort, the founder and leader of a sectarian movement.
The fast in the month of Ramadan observed by Muslims.
Second Coming
This is the Christian belief that at the end of time Jesus Christ will return and establish the new heavenly Jerusalem.
Second Vatican Council
A gathering of Roman Catholic Bishops in Rome from 1962 to 1965 at the instigation of Pope John XXIII. Out of the debates and pronouncements of the Council came the impetus for many new directions in Roman Catholicism.
The ceremonial meal held in Jewish homes on the first two nights of Pesach (first night only in Israel and among progressive Jews).
Seder plate
A plate used at a Pesach meal which holds foodstuff with symbolic meaning.
Sefer Torah
A handwritten parchment scroll of Torah, kept in Jewish synagogues and read from at services.
Jews from Spanish, Portuguese, North African and Middle Eastern backgrounds.
Seventh Day Adventists
A conservative Bible-based Christian group, which is distinguished by its continued recognition of Saturday as the appropriate day for rest and worship.
seva / sewa
In Sikhism, service for the benefit of others without any thoughts for oneself; the term is similarly used in Hinduism, although here it may also refer to service to a deity.
Shabbat (Shabbos)
The seventh day of the week, Saturday, on which Jews abstain from work. Jewish days begin at sunset and Shabbat is welcomed by the lighting of candles on Friday evening.
Islamic profession of faith that Allah is the only God and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
An influential Indian religious philosopher (probably 8th century CE).
The revealed law of Islam based on Qur'an and Sunnah and elaborated by schools of law.
The festival of Pentecost (or weeks) coming 50 days after the second day of Pesach. It is associated with the wheat harvest and with the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.
The Hebrew word for 'hear', which is the first word of a very important Jewish prayer from Deuteronomy in the Torah, also known as the Shema ('Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One').
Islamic groups that recognise a human spiritual lineage through the family of the Prophet beginning with Ali, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law. The most prominent such group recognises a line of 12 Imams, of which the twelfth went into hiding at the age of four in 873 CE and will remain alive but hidden until the end of the world when he will reappear.
Shirdi Sai Baba
(1856-1918) Bhakti mystic.
Hindu god. To his devotees, Shiva is the Supreme Lord who brings together opposites because he represents both destruction and creation, good and evil, austerity and exuberance, benevolence and ferocity.
A Hindu festival in honour of Shiva.
The murder of six million Jews in Europe by the Nazis, also known as the Holocaust.
Sidharan Path
A non-continuous reading of the entire Guru Granth Sahib, often spread over 9 days.
A religion founded by Guru Nanak and based on his teachings and those of nine human successor Gurus and subsequently the teachings of the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Simchat Torah
Literally 'rejoicing in the Torah. A joyous annual Jewish festival at the end of Sukkot to mark the end and the beginning of the cycle of Torah readings in synagogue.
The recitation of God's name as practised in Sikhism, Hinduism and other religious movements.
Smart, Ninian (1927-2001)
Professor of religious studies. Author of many books and of 'Schools' Council Working Paper 36' on religious studies in secondary schools. Founder and former president of the Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education.
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Buddhist monument originally derived from burial mounds and often still used for that purpose. Often comprising 5 distinct shapes which correspond to the 5 elements. The square base, earth; the dome, water; the spire, fire; the cresent, air and the surmounting disc, space.
Temporary booths set up during the Jewish festival of Sukkot in memory of the time the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt.
Autumn festival (usually mid-October).
Literally 'custom'. The word is used in Islam to refer to the words and deeds of the Prophet that are held to be exemplary and are embodied in the hadith or traditional literature.
The predominant Islamic group (approximately 90% of all Muslims), followers of the Sunnah (the custom and code of the Prophet Muhammad).
One of the 114 sections or chapters of the Qur'an.
Swami Narayan
A Hindu religious leader and founder of a sectarian group (sampradaya).
Emptiness or voidness. The Buddhist teaching that all that might one consider as existing is ultimately insubstantial and impermanent. No more than a constantly changing web of conditions.
Swami Vivekananda
Bengali intellectual who became a disciple of the saint Ramakrishna. He started the Ramakrishna Mission, which works devotedly on behalf of the poor of India, transcending caste and racial barriers.
One of the oldest and most the complex symbols. Prehistoric and found universally accepted except for parts of Africa and Summaria. As used by the ancient Aryans it signifys something auspicious. The word comes from Sanscrit meaning 'all is well'. The familiar symbol appears in both Buddhism and Hinduism where it is associated with Vishnu and painted on doors to protect against evil.
A Jewish place of congregational worship and community gathering often called by the Yiddish word Shul.
The fusion of religious beliefs and practices from different traditions where these interact in situations of intercultural contact.
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