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One of the Five Pillars of Islam. All branches of Islam accept these fundamental aspects of the faith that direct the private lives of Muslims in their dealings with God. Zakat, the Third Pillar, is charity for the poor.

Filed in Islam


Pronounced “zar-uh-THOO-struh.” The ancient Iranian name for Zoroaster.

Filed in Zoroastrianism

Zen Buddhism

A Mahayana Buddhist tradition that teaches enlightenment through meditation. It developed in China as Ch’an. Two major schools of Japanese Zen are the Rinzai school, which emphasizes koan practice, in which the student is given a traditional paradoxical sutra or story to consider (and, by having ultimately to transcend the logical use of mind, thereby is propelled into a direct encounter with reality beyond words), and the Soto school, whose primary practice is shikantaza (“just sitting” meditation, in which there is no object but simply a state of awareness).

Filed in Buddhism


In Zen Buddhist schools, a meditation hall.

Filed in Buddhism


A modern movement in Judaism rooted in the establishment of a separate Jewish nation, based on God’s biblical promise that Israel would forever belong to Abraham and his descendants as a nation. Many Zionists do not have religious motives, but believe a Jewish state is necessary because of the long history of persecution of Jews. That goal was realized with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Zionism refers to Mount Zion, the site of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. A Zionist is a supporter of Zionism.

Filed in Government and politics, Judaism


A supporter of Zionism.

Filed in Judaism


Pronounced “zoh-roh-AS-tuhr.” Zoroaster was the founder of Zoroastrianism (pronounced “zoh-roh-AS-trah-nism”), one of the world’s oldest surviving monotheistic religions. It was once the state religion of the ancient Persian empires, which include modern-day Iran, before the Arab Islamic invasions of the seventh century. Zoroastrians who fled to India more than 1,000 years ago are known as Parsis.

Filed in Zoroastrianism


A skullcap sometimes worn by Roman Catholic prelates.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity

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