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In the latter case, that is, of non-proselytizing religions, membership in a religion often coincides with membership in an ethnic group, so that religious participation is a birth right and not a matter of conversion; conversion often occurs only when a person marries into the faith, and in extreme cases conversion is rejected as an impossibility.Examples of proselytizing faiths are Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam; non-proselytizing faiths include Hinduism, Judaism, and Shinto.Buddhist missionaries from Central Asia began an active program of translating sacred texts into Chinese, and a number of Chinese priests and monks, over the centuries, traveled the Silk Road in search of doctrinal instruction in India.
Others were followers of the old religion of Egypt, especially the cult of Isis and Osiris.
Jewish merchants and other settlers had spread beyond the borders of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judea and had established their own places of worship in towns and cities throughout the region.
The Greek colonies of Central Asia that had been left behind after the collapse of the empire of Alexander the Great had, by the 1st century BCE, largely converted from Greco-Roman paganism to Buddhism, a religion that would soon use the Silk Road to spread far and wide.
In India, on side routes of the Silk Road that crossed the passes to the Indus Valley and beyond, the older religion of Brahmanism had given way to Hinduism and Buddhism; the former never spread far beyond India and Southeast Asia, while the latter eventually became worldwide in extent.
That is, they either actively seek to recruit new members to the faith from outside the current membership group, or they do not.
In the former case, ethnicity, language, color, and other physical and cultural differences are taken to be of relatively small importance compared with the common humanity of all believers, and the availability of the faith (and its particular canons of belief, forms of worship, and promises of salvation) to all humans everywhere.
Daoism, in the strict sense of that term, connoting an organized religion with an ordained clergy and an established body of doctrine, would not appear in China for another three centuries.
Islam would be more than seven centuries in the future.
The peoples of the Silk Road in its early decades followed many different religions.
In the Middle East, many people worshiped the gods and goddesses of the Greco-Roman pagan pantheon.