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Why Religion?

Discover Islam

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The comparison of Islam and other religions with respect to the spiritual education of humanity

Almost all moral or religious revival movements prior to Islam emerged or developed as reactions against existing circumstances. This explains why they lacked some principles and did not deal with every aspect of life and humanity. For example, Taoism taught a corrupt and vice-ridden China to neglect material pleasure. Confucianism was opposed to these principles and called upon those who had retreated to monasteries to seek spiritual purification and individual piety to establish a virtuous state and live a fully social life among the people. India’s vast fertile country was invaded several times, which caused its religions to become very mystical. In addition, asceticism grew as a reaction against the previously prevalent luxury and debauchery.

Christianity, particularly in the beginning, developed too much as an otherworldly religion. One reason was its emergence in an atmosphere dominated by worldliness. Another reason was because, as Jesus admitted, it was a revelation for a particular nation at a particular time and in particular circumstances, and so was not the final and complete Divine message:

I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. However, when the Spirit of truth comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but will speak of what he hears and tell you of things to come. (John 16:12-13) 

Five centuries later, the entire truth was revealed to humanity via the Spirit of truth, known to history as Prophet Muhammad. God revealed that the message he brought was universal (34:28), that he spoke only what was revealed to him, and that he did not speak on his own authority. Such facts were foretold by Jesus (John 16:12-13) and mentioned in the Qur’an (53:3-4).

Only Muhammad has emerged as a Prophet after Jesus, and only he has been used by God to reveal His truth. Before this, polytheism and other denials of monotheism were prevalent: Most of humanity does not believe in Him, but associate other gods with Him (12:106). As people measured not God with His true measure (6:91), some believed that He had a son while others considered the angels to be His daughters.

The Prophet revealed the truth about God and emphasized His Unity. With him, God perfected religion and declared that the true religion with Him is Islam (3:19) and: therefore, whoso desires another religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him; in the next world he shall be among the losers (3:85). Jesus stated: He [the Spirit of truth] shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and show it to you (John 16:14), and the Prophet acknowledged Jesus’ true glory by revealing the true importance of his life and teachings. Finally, he brought Islam, the last and complete message, because he is the Seal of Prophets.

Given all of this, Islam is a religion that contains a complete guidance for all aspects of life regardless of time and place; a faith-based system of life that combines action, intention, and faith and considers the totality of human life. Although it concentrates on our spiritual aspect, it does not neglect life’s socioeconomic and administrative aspects. In fact, the Qur’an mentions the qualifications of the people chosen by God Almighty to guide and educate humanity and describes the foundations of a perfect community as follows: Thus We appointed for you a Messenger from among you so that he will recite to you Our signs, purify you, and teach you the Book, wisdom, and what you do not know (2:151).

As Islam is the way of love, knowledge, and action, humanity needs signs to implement it. Thus every event in the universe and human life is no more than a sign upon which we are to contemplate and through which we can find ways to the Sublime Creator. By contemplating these signs in the light of the Qur’an’s guidance, we acquire knowledge of God and faith and lead a virtuous life based upon Islam, which purifies our soul from evil and sin. Such contemplation enables us to “discover” modern science, all of which originates in the signs (commonly known as the Divine laws of nature).

However, we should note that only purified souls can use science and technology to benefit humanity. If this fact is ignored, such knowledge can lead to millions of deaths, widows and orphans, and homeless people, as we saw throughout the twentieth century. Only purified souls familiar with science and knowing how to use it can lead humanity toward true happiness and salvation.

Obviously, such purified individuals endowed with scientific knowledge and ability must live among the people. Thus the Messenger was sent with the Qur’an, which contains the Divine principles of social life, and the Balance so that we could follow absolute justice.14 Any religion or system that lacks the principles of spiritual purity or the conditions of a virtuous social life cannot provide true happiness. As will be explained, and as witnessed by history, Islam provides a complete guidance for our lives here and in the next world. Prophet Muhammad was sent as the blessing for all the worlds, and so there is no need to renew the Divine message through another Prophet—we already have the eternal and uncorrupted Qur’an. 

Islam will never be outdated

Some people argue that Islam, now 1,400 years old, is obsolete and unsuitable, that new guidance is required. Such an assertion is totally unfounded, for Islam was revealed by God and thus is eternal, as He is. Our knowledge is limited, whereas God’s Knowledge is all-inclusive. God is also omniscient, for He is not limited by time and space as we are.

Moreover, Islam is based on essential human nature, which does not change over time or according to location. It is a modern illusion that everything is subject to change. Human life and nature show a beautiful balance between elements of permanence and change: Outward forms change, while fundamental principles, basic values, and essential human nature and needs do not.

The Qur’an and Sunna propound Islam’s eternal principles, while deductive reasoning based upon them (ijtihad) meets the needs of every age. Ijtihad is neither independent reasoning (Joseph Schacht) nor free thinking (Hamilton Gibb), but a technical legal term and principle defined by Muslim scholars as “the competency or legal ability to deduce rules of law through juristic speculation from original sources where definite authentic decisive texts are not specific.” For example, Islam does not object to modern traffic laws, but considers murder a capital sin and a grave crime worthy of severe punishment even if committed by someone driving a car. 

Someone once said to a famous Muslim jurist: “You argue that the Qur’an contains every principle related to modern needs. If so, does it say how many loaves of bread can be made from a kilo of flour?” The jurist’s answer is very significant to understanding the matter’s essence: “Yes, the Qur’an gives that information in 16:43, which tells us that if we don’t know something we must ask the experts. So ask a baker about it.”

Islam is the only religion that embraces all dimensions of life and possesses an established method that allows for the perennial evolution of human society in accordance with life’s fundamental principles and permanent values.

Bibliography

1. Izzeti, A. The Revolutionary Islam. 1980.
2. Khallaf, Abdul-Wahhab. Islam Tesri’ Tarihi (Turkish trans.). 1970.
3. Al-Mawdudi, A. A. Towards Understanding Islam. 1970.
4. New Testament. American Bible Society: 1977.
5. Nursi, Said. Sozler (The Words, vols. 1 and 2). Istanbul: 1958.
6. ———. Isaratu’l-I’caz. Istanbul: n.d.
7. Pouya, M. A. Fundamentals of Islam. Karachi: n.d.
8. Shariati, Ali. Medeniyet ve Modernizm (Turkish trans.). 1980.
9. Yazir, E. Hamdi. Hak Dini Kur’an Dili. Istanbul: 1960.

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Last Updated on April 15, 2002

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