Religious Movements

The concept of jihad, means simply struggle or exertion to the best of one’s ability. Legally, there are two main types of jihad: greater jihad or jihad of the heart, tongue and hand which aims at the spiritual and intellectual development of the individual, and lesser jihad or jihad of the sword. The direct purpose […]


The period from the late nineteenth century has witnessed the upsurge of a number of churches, which were indeed an African strand of a new development of Christianity. Mainly fabricated in Africa by Africans to suit the African context and described as ‘a place to feel at home’ these churches came to be referred to […]


African charismatic churches is the label given to the wide variety of neo-pentecostal churches proliferating in Africa since about 1980. They vary in size from very small (the majority) to urban megachurches and even to what are effectively new denominations. There are variations across the continent (the phenomenon, for example, is more developed in Anglophone […]

AETHERIUS SOCIETY (Religious Movement)

The Aetherius Society is one of the earliest and longest-lasting UFO-related religions. It is one of the few British NRMs (see New Religious Movement) to spread successfully to the USA and elsewhere in the world. It is also a rare example of a new religion making a smooth transition following the death of its founder. […]

ADI DA (Religious Movement)

The full self-given name of Adi Da is Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj. The name means: Ruchira=shining or bright, avatar=a direct incarnation of God (see also Mother Meera and Sai Baba, Sathya), Adi=first, Da=the Giver (God), and Samraj=divine ruler—hence, he claims to be the shining divine descent of the God-Man. At birth in 1939 at […]

A COURSE IN MIRACLES (Religious Movement)

A Course in Miracles (the Course) is a lengthy channelled text, received by Dr Helen Schucman (1909-81) a psychologist at Columbia University in New York city between 1965 and 1972, which became especially popular in New Age circles (see New Age Movement). This entry briefly describes the nature of the Course, its history and leading […]

AHMADIYYA MOVEMENT (Religious Movement)

Founder: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (c. 1839-1908) The Ahmadiyya movement provided, from a Muslim theological point of view, one of the more unusual responses from among those that emerged in the Asian subcontinent to modernization and westernization. The movement is regarded as unorthodox by Sunni Muslims principally on account of the claims made either by its […]

AGONSHU (Religious Movement)

This Japanese new, new religion (shin shin shukyo) was established in its present form in 1978 by Kiriyama Seiyu (1921-), its founder and Kancho (leader). Kiriyama started an earlier movement in 1954 known as Kannon Jikeikai, Association for the Worship of Bodhisattva Kannon, who is regarded as the most potent symbol of compassion and mercy […]

AGE OF AQUARIUS (Religious Movement)

The Age of Aquarius is an astrological concept that relates to the myths concerning the ‘ages of humanity’. Whether these various epochs represent historical periods or developmental stages (such as infancy, adolescence and adulthood), they manifest as recurring motifs that are found from Northern Borneo and the Hindu four yugas to the Aztec five eons […]

AFTER-LIFE BELIEFS (Religious Movement)

The after-life beliefs of any NRM can be part of what makes it distinctive or, just as easily, can relate it to other movements or to a traditional religious worldview. Many NRMs follow a general trend within contemporary, Western religion which emphasizes the ways in which we experience this life, rather than anticipating and dwelling […]