5 Influential Religious Figures

Throughout history, there have been great men that sparked a religious movement or belief system. In this article, you will encounter information about some of the most influential of religious figures, including Buddha and Confucius.

Jesus of Nazareth (or Jesus Christ or Christ)

Jesus Christ (born 7 to 2 BC) was the founder of Christianity and has been affiliated with both Judaism and Christianity. While he was the central figure of Christianity, he is also seen as a significant prophet of God within the Islamic faith. The majority of Christian denominations worship Christ as the son of God, who rose from the dead after being crucified. Most of what is known about Jesus is found in the four gospels of the Bible, which focus on His life and teachings.


Muhammad (born in 570) was the Prophet of Islam and known as the conqueror of Arabia. Not only did Muhammad found a major religion of the world, but he was also a significant leader in the military and politics. Most Muslims often view Muhammad as the restorer of a monotheistic faith that has not been corrupted. This is the faith that is also associated with Abraham, Moses, Adam, Noah and other prophets.

Buddha (or Siddhartha Gautama Buddha)

The founder of Buddhism is Buddha, whose teachings helped establish and shape the religion. The spiritual teacher hailed from the Indian subcontinent , born in Lumbini (present-day Nepal) around 563 BCE. The word Buddha came to mean a title that referred to the “first awakened being in an era.” In the majority of Buddhist traditions, Siddhartha Gautam is viewed as the Supreme Buddha (“the enlightened one”) of our age. His religious affiliations have been Hinduism and Buddhism.


The founder of Confucianism is Confucius, whose teachings mainly focused on moral philosophy, social philosophy and ethics. Known as a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period, Confucius was born in 551 BC and lived during the Zhou Dynasty. He promoted a philosophical outlook on life that was seen by some as controversial. An example of some of the teachings of Confucius includes his views on rulers. He felt that rulers should be chosen on merit and not because they were the next in line within their family. He believed that rulers should be devoted to their people, and strive to reach perfection. He wanted rulers to lead by example, and not feel compelled to force their edicts by threatening the people.

St. Paul (Paul the Apostle)

Preaching the word of Christianity, St. Paul was an influential religious figure who was associated with Judaism and Christianity. St. Paul was born in 5 AD in what is now known as south-central Turkey. Paul the Apostle (also known as Saul of Tarsus) is seen by many as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries. His writings would be used to form a great deal of the New Testament. He also influenced the Christian way of thinking of the epistles.

There are many days that pay homage to Paul, including the following feast days: The Conversion of Paul (January 25), Feast of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck in Malta (February 10), Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), and Feast of the dedication of the basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul (November 18).