By Dr. Obaidur Rahman Nadwi
Religion is not only a creed or code but an insight into reality. The real reason of life is after all based on religion. It is sociological phenomenon. It is the summum bonum of life in this world; and to help realise it in its totality, it demands the sincere approach on the part of human beings. It is physical science and experience that man ought to look for, in religion.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ says: “Deen (way of life) is but sincere advice.” (Muslim) He further says: “When Allah wishes good for anyone, He instructs him in the religion.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
It is religion which provides peace of mind and develops in a man moral courage, piety, compassion, kindness, righteousness, honesty, rectitude, integrity, reliability, sincerity, wisdom, courage, moderation, clemency, forgiveness, and sense of justice.
In the words of Swami Vivekananda, ‘The end and all aim of all religion is to realise God. The greatest of all training is to worship God alone.’ (Teachings of Swami Vivekananda, p. 241)
Prominent historian Ibn Khaldun has elaborated the importance of religion in the following words:
“Only by God’s help in establishing His religion do individual desires come together in agreement to press their claims, and hearts become united. Religious colouring does away with mutual jealousy and envy among people who share in asabiyyah and cause concentrations upon the truth. When people (with the help of religion) come to have the right insight into their affairs, nothing can withstand them, because their outlook is one and this object is one of common accord.”
He further said: “Religion is both a sociological and spiritual experience. It is a bond of social unity as well as an instrument for purification of human soul and mind.” (Intellectual Foundations of Muslim Civilization, p. 130).
It should be kept in mind that the Islamic concept of religion is quite unique as compared to those of other faiths. Its main point is to worship only one Allah. The Holy Qur’ān vividly says: “I have only created jinn and men, that they may serve me. No sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed me. For Allah is He who gives all sustenance, Lord of power, steadfast forever.” (51–56:58)
It is evident that when a person bows down and prostrates himself before Allah, He (Allah) bestows on him wisdom and provides him with strength to perform good acts. Thus he keeps himself from committing mischievous and unholy deeds. Besides, the religion of Islam teaches its adherents to do good with every human being regardless of caste or creed.
The Holy Qur’ān says: “Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not in sin and rancour.” (5:2)
The Holy Prophet ﷺ said: “Help your brother, be he a wrong-doer or wronged.” Thereupon a man (present there) exclaimed: “O Messenger of Allah! I may help him if he is wronged; but how could I help a wrong-doer?” He (the Prophet) said: “You prevent him from doing wrong; that will be your help to him.” (Bukhari and Muslim) He further says: “A man who points out the good, is like one who does it.” (Muslim).
Noted scholar Hammudah Abdalati has rightly said:
“It is true that genuine religion must come from Allah for the right guidance 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 the nature of man and how to treat them, about good and evil, about right and wrong. It purifies the soul from evil, clears the mind from doubts, strengthens the character and corrects the thinking and convictions of man. All this can be achieved only when man faithfully observes the spiritual duties and physical regulations introduced by religion.
“On the other hand, true religion educates man and trains him in hope and patience, in truthfulness and honesty, in love for the right and good, in courage and endurance, all of which are required for the mastery of the great art of living. Moreover, true religion insures man against fears and spiritual losses, and assures him of God’s aid and unbreakable alliance. It provides man with peace and security and makes his life meaningful.” (Islam in Focus, p. 30)
It is unfortunate that modern man lacks these qualities and virtues. Today we see chaos all around; murders, loot, sexual offences, kidnapping even match-fixing and cyber-crimes are rife. The existing laws have failed to infuse any fear in antisocial elements. It is by having faith in Allah and acting as enjoined by Him that may help in purging the society from evils. This divine prescription makes human life comfortable and cheerful.
Even in the age of reason and in the era of science and technology, French philosophers like Voltaire, Diderot, Holbach and La Mettrie, and German philosophers like Feuerbach, Karl Marx and Engels, etc. considered religion to be the enemy of free thought, reason and enlightenment. Marx and Engels showed that it is not nature but man’s specific attitude to it that gave birth to religion. “Religion,” wrote Engels, “arose in very primitive times from erroneous, primitive conceptions of men about their own nature and external nature surrounding them.”
Marx wrote: “The foundation of irreligious criticism is: man makes religion, religion does not make man.”
It may be significant to note that the above cited views were worked out by Lenin, who demonstrated in his writings that the fight against religious prejudices could only be successful during revolutionary transformation of old social relations based on the masses, their level of exploitation, backwardness and illiteracy. Between late 1890s to 1900s, 1907 to be precise, Lenin raised the issue of religion, more than 50 times, that establishes his ignorance of “reality”.
It should also be borne in mind that peace is the leitmotif of all religions, and war and disturbance are its distortion. It is unfortunate that some so-called ‘enlightened’ people are now associating it with war and terrorism. This is totally wrong and at best, deliberate distortion.
In a nutshell, it is only through religion that it is possible to transform the chaos of life into a harmonious pattern of peace, happiness and general welfare. So, if science gives comfort in life, faith and spiritualism give mental peace and courage. It cultivates higher qualities among the human beings. Therefore, it is necessary to give importance to religion, for without faith and conviction, human values in a person cannot be cultivated.
[The writer is Faculty Member, Darul Ulama Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh]