Page 25 - Islam In Focus

Basic HTML Version

The Concept of Religion
Throughout history religion has been abused and misunderstood. Some people use it
as a means of exploitation and suppression, as a pretext for prejudice and persecution.
Some other people use it as a source of power and domination over the elite and the
masses alike. In the name of religion unjustifiable wars have been launched, freedom
of thought and conscience has been oppressed, science has been persecuted, the right
of the individual to maturity has been denied, and man’ s dignity and honor have been
flagrantly debased. And in the name of religion an injustice has been inflicted upon
humanity with the result that religion itself has suffered many losses.
These are historical facts which no one can deny. But is this the proper function of
religion or the right approach to religion? Could this be the purpose of religion? The
indisputable answer is an emphatic no. There are many religions in the world, and
each one claims to be the one and only true religion. Each religion is supposed to have
come from God for the right guidance of man. But these claims contradict each other
and have caused dissensions among people and vehement reactions to religion –
instead of welding mankind into one universal brotherhood under the One Universal
Benevolent God. This situation makes any neutral observer confused and perhaps
averse to all kinds of religion.
The Islamic concept of religion is unique in the broadest sense of the word. It is true
that genuine religion must come from God for the right guidance of man. And it is
equally true that human nature and major human needs are basically the same at all
times. This conception leads to one conclusion, and that is: There is only one true
religion coming from the One and the Same God, to deal with the outstanding human
problems of all times. This religion is ISLAM. But it should be borne in mind that
Islam was taught by Prophet Muhammad alone. On the contrary, Islam had been
taught by all the prophets before Muhammad, and the true followers of Abraham and
Moses as well as those of Jesus and the rest were all called MUSLIMS. So Islam has
been, and will continue to be, the true universal religion of God, because God is One
and Changeless, and because human nature and major human needs are fundamentally
the same, irrespective of time and place, of race and age, and of any other
Bearing this in mind, the Islamic concept maintains that religion is not only a spiritual
and intellectual necessity but also a social and universal need. It is not to bewilder
man but to guide him. It is not to debase him but to elevate his moral nature. It is not
to deprive him of anything useful, or to burden him, or to oppress his qualities but to
open for him inexhaustible treasures of sound thinking and right action. It is not
confine him to narrow limits but to launch him into wide horizons of truth and
goodness. In short, true religion is to acquaint man with God as well as with himself
and the rest of the universe. This is by no means an oversimplification of the function
of religion. Here is what it means.
When the purpose of true religion is carefully examined, it will be found that religion
satisfies the spiritual and moderate material needs of man. It unties his psychological
knots and complexes, sublimates his instincts and aspirations, and disciplines his
desires and the whole course of life. It improves his knowledge of God – the Highest
Truth in the universe, and of his own self. It teaches him about the secrets of life and