Samples Religion Religious Taboos, Scared Space and Time

Religious Taboos, Scared Space and Time

722 words 3 page(s)

1. Briefly describe two examples of sacred time and two examples of sacred space.
Sacred time can be defined as time set apart from ordinary activities where focus is turned to spiritual experience or the commemoration of times where the eternal sacred power intrudes into ordinary time and activities. Such times call for participation in extraordinary spiritually-oriented activities where ordinary activities may be prohibited as indicated by the celebration of the Night of Power in Islam which occurs 27th day of Ramadan. Represented in a cyclical manner, the scared time created by this celebration occurs annually in respect to a spiritually-significant time representing the night which the Quran was first revelation to Prophet Muhammad. Sacred time can also be created as indicated by participation in worship at various times of the week as well as day where spiritual contemplation and religious observance is done where the celebrants are transported from an ordinary time and experience to an eternal realm and time. This defines the religious observance of Sunday mass or prayer worship at different times in Christianity.

The term sacred denotes reverence related to holiness which means that sacred space symbolizes sites where Esteemed Deities have intruded on ordinary space are can be represented by places where religious activities are carried out with the goal of experiencing spiritual connections with Supreme Deities. Sacred space can include natural surroundings as practiced by ancient religions or buildings such as temples in Hinduism, churches in Christianity, mosques in Islam or synagogues for Judaism. The presence of religious objects such as prayer rugs in Islam, Christian shrines at home or scrolls of Torah for the practice of Judaism, which may provide spiritual experiences or contact with Supreme Deities, are also scared spaces. Sacred spaces coincide with sacred time in that the spaces provide venues where scared time can be observed in terms of religious observance and spiritual contemplation accompanied by special actions as well as prohibitions. Fundamentally, sacred spaces entail places that inspires religious contemplation of the divine especially with regards to seeking or understanding divine providence may be through rituals, dance, silence and song, among other aspects.

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2. Explain the notion of taboo. Describe two specific religion-based examples, and speculate on how or why each arose.
Taboos can be defined as prohibitions or restrictions against engaging in various actions or associations with specific people or places founded on socio-cultural or religious customs which, if people ignore them, may lead to varied negative consequences for individuals and even families. As such, the defining elements of taboos include restrictions against actions or association with certain ‘things’ based on socio-cultural or religious customs as well as the potential for negative outcomes or consequences on individuals and families. For instance, the practice of incest which involves sexual relations/activity between and among family members and close relatives is a religious taboo prohibited in Christianity, Islam and Hinduism as well as in the Jewish religion. The taboo of incest arose as a practice that adheres to the Holy Scriptures which shows the practice as contributing to one’s sins which are punished by God. However, I speculate that the incest taboo became prominent after the Christian reformation which revealed the sayings of the scriptures to all.

The restriction of incest in Hinduism is especially strong where fear of potentially harmful consequences because of the practice is high especially due to the contamination of bloodlines and family trees. Further justification for the incest taboo is tied to the negative effects that are experienced by offspring of such relationships especially birth defects which may inform the legal sanctions against the practice. The consumption of pork is another taboo restricted in Islam and Judaism where religious laws set out in the Koran and the Torah, respectively, prohibit pork consumption. Considering that the scriptures communicate the wishes of supreme deities whose laws cannot be questioned, the explicit directive that the flesh of swine cannot be consumed is final and invokes fear of going against the almighty deities. From a different perspective, Cabanac & Bonniot-Cabanac (2006) speculate that the prohibition of eating pig meat can be traced to practices of Semitic people in the Middle East with regards to the unpleasant odor of boar meat.

  • Cabanac, M. & Bonniot-Cabanac, M. (2006). The religious taboo against eating pork: A hypothesis on its origins. Journal of World Anthropology: Occasional Papers II(2), 17-26.