Four things you didn't know about three religious leaders

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Jan. 27, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 26, 2012 at 7:27 p.m.

For many of the world's leading religions, there's a prominent figure, or leader, attached to the faith. In Christianity, for example, that person is Jesus; in Islam, Muhammad.

But there are others throughout history, such as the Hellenistic Greek Gods of 300 BC; the prophet Joseph Smith, who founded the Latter Day Saints in the 1800s, and L. Ron Hubbard, who launched his sometimes controversial Church of Scientology in 1954.

But whether a religious figure is considered a prophet, divine or simply a catalyst for a new spiritual method, each is unique and responsible for leading many followers to a life of spiritual transcendence.

Here are four things you didn't know about three celebrated religious figures.

Jesus Christ (Christianity)

1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem in 4 B.C. He was a Galilean from Nazareth, a village near Sepphoris.

2. In the book of Luke; (2:41-52), a 12-year-old Jesus is found in the Jerusalem temple courts with rabbis, exhibiting a profound understanding of the teachings. This is the only account of his youth in the Bible, other than his birth.

3. Jesus was about 30 years old at the start of his ministry. He was crucified at 33 years old.

4. Jesus' "Christ" title, given to him by his followers and recognized (even in secular circles) as a name exclusive to Jesus, is derived from the Greek word christos. It translates the Hebrew term meshiah (messiah), meaning "The Anointed One."

Muhammad (Islam)

1. Muhammad was born in 570, Mecca, Arabia (now in Saudi Arabia) and died June 8, 632, in Medina.

2. He is the founder of the religion of Islam and recognized by Muslims as the last prophet of God.

3. Muslims recognize Muhammad of Islam as "The Glorified One" and the "Messenger of God." Prayers and litanies in Islam offer 99 names for Muhammad, including Prophet, The Perfect Man and The Beloved of God.

4. Muslims consider the Quran to be the word of God, not of Muhammad, but the book reveals aspects of the life and sayings of Muhammad.

Siddhartha Gautama (Buddhism)

1. Gautama was likely born in the 6th century B.C. in India, rather than the 11th century B.C. as scholars previously thought.

2. He was born to King Suddhodana of the Sakya people, which would have bordered present-day Nepal and India. He was known as Prince Siddhartha.

3. He married and had a son, then left the palace in secret when he was about 29, and traveled to meditate under the teachers Alara Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra. Shortly after, he gave his first sermon on the Four Noble Truths.

4. Siddhartha is commonly known as Budda, meaning "Awakened One" or "Enlightened One."




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