Is It Necessary For Man To Follow a Religion?
The foremost question that comes up here is "what is the relation of men's lives with religion and piety?" Is it not possible for a human society to continue its humanitarian existence without religion and faith in Allah? Is it not that a religious person is one who proves Allah's existence and performs specific acts for His satisfaction?
It is possible that in the society, according to the laws enacted by human beings, the duty of each member of the society determines the benefit and the loss. In this case, the laws of men replace religious laws and there will be no need for religion. But with little attention and deliberation on Islamic commandments and regulations, the opposite of this is proved, for Islam has not been concerned only with praying to and praising Allah,
rather it has enacted comprehensive instructions and specific regulations for all individual and social positions of man. Islam has considered the vast world of humanity in an astonishing manner and has enacted suitable regulations in accordance with man's individual and social actions and otherwise.
Finally, Islam has provided and guaranteed the happiness and prosperity of the members of social community in every respect and to the maximum extent possible. Every just person acknowledges that the laws sprang from man's limited thoughts and knowledge cannot equal those of religion. This power of the Almighty Allah has described the religion of Islam in the Holy Quran. As examples, we will cite few verses here:
"Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam, and those to whom the Book had been given did not show opposition but after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves: and whoever disbelieves in the communications of Allah then surely Allah is quick in reckoning (3:19)."
The religion towards which all prophets have invited people consists of theism and submission to Allah's orders. Though the religious scholars specified right through wrong, they did not accept what was rightful due to their prejudice and animosity. Each scholar adopted a specific course of action; as a result, different religions came into existence on earth. In fact, this category of people did not believe in the Divine verses. Allah will soon retribute their deeds.
"And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him. and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers (3:85)."
"O you who believe! enter into submission one and all, and do not follow the footsteps of Shaytan (satan); surely he is your open enemy (2:208)." "And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have made a covenant, and do not break the oaths after making them fast, and you have indeed made Allah a surety for you; surely Allah knows what you do (16:91)."
The purpose of this verse is to indicate that any Muslim who makes a promise to Allah or to people must keep it and must not breach it.
"Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and have debates with them in the best manner; surely your Lord best knows those who go astray from His path, and He knows best those who follow the right way (16:125)."
This refers to the fact that to promote religion, a Muslim must converse with people according to their understanding and in a way that is beneficial to them. However, if he fails to guide a person through logic and advice then he must debate in the best manner, which is one of the means of proving something, to guide him towards truth.
"And when the Qur'an is recited, then listen to it and remain silent, that mercy may be shown to you (7:204)."
"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Prophet and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Prophet, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day; this is better and very good in the end (4:59)."
This verse means that in an Islamic society, disputes can only be settled by the Qur'an and the ahadith of the Prophet (SA). Every difference must be settled by these two factors. If a Muslim settles differences by the logic of reason, this is due to the fact that the Qur'an has accepted the rule of logic.
"Thus, it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust (3:159)."
Good behaviour, benevolence, and taking counsel in the affairs result in fellowship and kindness. Members of the society must respect their leader to be influenced by him. Allah orders the honourable leader of the Muslims to be benevolent and to take counsel. But since it is possible that people may make mistakes in their decisions, Allah orders the leader to be independent in his decision after taking counsel and to have trust in Allah, because no one can oppose Allah's will.
In like manner, the Almighty Allah introduces Judaism and Christianity with their Divine books of Tawrat (Old Testament) and the Injil (Bible) and their social precepts and provisions as:
"And how do they make you a judge and they have the Tawrat wherein is Allah's judgement. .. Surely We revealed Tawrat in which was guidance and light; with it the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged (matters) for those who were Jews, and the masters of divine knowledge and the doctors... And We sent after them in their footsteps 'Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)... and We gave him the Injil in which was guidance and light, and verifying what was before it of Tawrat... And the followers of the Injil should have judged by what Allah revealed in it... And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, therefore judge between them by what Allah has revealed ...(5:43 - 48)."
Tawrat and Injil which are now in the hands of the Jews and Christians emphasize this point, because the Tawrat contains many legal and judicial provisions and apparently the Injil confirms and certifies the religious laws of Tawrat.
From the aforementioned statement, it becomes evident that religion as viewed by the Qur'an is the same as the method of living from which man cannot escape. The difference between religion and a social law is that religion is descended by the Almighty Allah, whereas social laws spring from people's minds. In other words, religion unites man's social life with his worship and obedience of the Almighty Allah, while no attempt at such unity is made by social laws.
The Advantages Of Religion
It was revealed that religion has a profound effect in reforming the individual and the society. It is also the only means of obtaining bliss and prosperity.
A society which does not abide by religion loses its realign and intellectualism and spends its precious life in aberration, externalism, and negligence. Such a society ignores wisdom, and like animals, becomes narrow-minded and foolish. This society becomes involved in immorality and misbehaviour, thus forfeiting all its humanitarian privileges. Such a society will not reach its everlasting prosperity and rather, it will experience the inauspicious outcomes and the unpleasant effects of its deviations and m is demeanours. Sooner or later, such a society will suffer from the evil consequences of its negligence and will realize that the only way towards prosperity is religion and belief in Allah. Finally, this society will regret its actions.
The Almighty Allah states:
"He will indeed be successful who purifies it, and he will indeed fail who corrupts it (91:9 -10)."
It is necessary to understand that the application of religious instructions ensures the happiness and salvation of the individual and the society, otherwise only nomination does not help. Since it is only the reality itself that counts and not the claim for reality.
Whoever claims to be a Muslim, and with his gloomy heart, inferior character, and awkward behaviour expects to meet the angel of happiness, resembles a patient who expects to recover without having treatment as per the prescription. Obviously with such an idea, he will not attain his goal.
The Almighty Allah states:
"Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Chris tians and the Sabians*, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have reward from their Lord...(2:62)."
It might be assumed that, according to this verse, those who have faith in Allah and the Day of Judgement and who perform good deeds will be saved even if they do not believe in all or some prophets. But it must be realized that in Surat al-Nisa' Ayat (verses) 150 and 151, Allah considers those who disbelieve in all or some of the prophets as kafirin (unbelievers). In this respect, He states:
"Surely those who disbelieve in Allah and His apostles and (those who) desire to make a distinction between Allah and His apostles and say: 'We believe in some and disbelieve in others'; and desire to take a course between (this and) that. These it is that are truly unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement (4:150-151)."
As a result, whoever believes in all the prophets and performs good deeds will avail of his faith.
* Sabians are those who converted from Magian to Jewish religion.
If we study the means and factors which led to the development of human societies in the past, this truth becomes evident to us that in his life, man only demands and pursues his own prosperity and happiness. Of course, this happiness would not be possible without the total provision of all means of existence.
On the other hand, with his understanding, gifted by Allah, man realizes that he can never attain and prepare all his needs on his own, so as to provide the means of his ideal welfare and prosperity, because he realizes that he cannot solve the problems of life and reach perfection by himself. As a result, he necessarily submits himself to a social life to supply his needs and considers cooperation with others as the easiest means towards achieving his goal.
He engages in acquiring the means of his livelihood collectively. That is to say, each person undertakes to provide some of the means and makes them available. Then, all individuals gather the outcome of their activities. Proportionate with his activity and social status, each individual takes a share and uses it to manage his life.
In this way, he will work hand in hand with his fellowmen to ensure his welfare. This is to say that they all endeavour for one another and pile up the outcomes of their activities. Then each member of the society gathers the product of his activity in accordance with his position and the extent of his endeavour.
THE NEED FOR REGULATIONS IN THE SOCIETY
As the results of the activities of individuals are linked with one another and since everyone wants to benefit from them, forcibly, inconvenience and conflict of interests are indispensable elements of this contact and constant relation. It is needless to say that material benefits are normally the source of all kinds of differences, animosities, and loss of sincerity. In order to maintain sincerity among people, society requires a series of regulations, the observance of which prevents disturbance and chaos.
It is self-evident that if no laws and regulations for the management of the society exist, there will be a chaos in which human society cannot survive even for a single day.
Certainly, these rules vary from one society to another based on the extent of civilization or savagery of tribes and nations, and the level of understanding of societies and their governments. In neither case is a society free from the need of a series of traditions and regulations which are at least respected by most of its members. In the history of mankind, never has a society evolved without possessing common rites, traditions, and regulations.
MAN IS NOT FREE AGAINST REGULATIONS
As man performs all his actions with his own free will and choice, he feels a sort of freedom of action for himself. By considering this freedom of action as "absolute", that is, "unconditional", he wants total freedom and escapes from any restriction. For this reason, man suffers from any prohibition and deprivation inflicted on himself. Finally, he feels compelled and senses failure whenever a restriction is imposed on him. Therefore, no matter how small the number of social regulations are, they are against man's freedom-seeking nature because they limit him to some extent.
On the other hand, he finds that if he disagrees to forfeit a part of his freedom by abiding by the laws for the sake of the protection of society and its order, a chaos will result that will suddenly annihilate all his freedom and peace. This is just as if he seizes a morsel from others when others will undoubtedly seize morsels from him. In like manner, if he oppresses others, they will oppress him as well. Therefore, in order to maintain some freedom for himself, he dispenses with a part of his freedom and inevitably respects social regulations.
WEAK POINT IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF REGULATIONS
As mentioned before, there is a kind of conflict and incompatibility between man's freedom-seeking nature and social regulations. That is, laws are like chains that are linked to man's feet and he constantly tries to break them and set himself free from captivity. This is the greatest danger which always threatens social regulations and shakes its foundations.
In this regard, alongside practical regulations and duties, there are always other regulations intended to punish offenders which frighten and prevent them from opposition, and to encourage people to abide by the laws by making them confident of receiving rewards and prizes. It cannot be denied that the subject matter (i.e., fear of punishment and eagerness for receiving rewards) aids the enforcement of laws to some extent, but it cannot fully prevent violations and safeguard the influence and domination of laws. This is because penal codes, like other laws, are vulnerable to violation and are constantly threatened by the freedom-seeking nature of man, because those who have full power and capability can overtly oppose them without fear and fright, or they can force judicial and executive organizations to act according to their desire, by using their influence.
And those who do not have adequate influence and power can take advantage of the negligence or weakness of the authorities to fulfil their oppositions covertly. They can attain their ends through bribery, mediation, or by way of friendship and relationship with the influential sector to disrupt the working order of the society and to paralyse it.
The best evidence for this subject is that every day we observe thousands of these types of oppositions and violations against laws in various human societies.
THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF THE WEAKNESS OF LAWS
We must now find out where the original source of danger lies and how to subdue the unyielding and freedom seeking nature of man in order to prevent his opposition to the law.
The source of this danger, which is the main cause for penetration of corruption in a society and which cannot even be prevented by regulations, is that the ordinary social methods which have brought the laws into existence consider the material aspects of individuals and ignore their spiritualities and instincts. They only aim at providing harmony, maintaining order, and balancing the actions of people in such a way that will not result in discord and conflict. Social laws demand adherence of their articles and tend to control the actions of people. Such laws ignore men's innate attributes and innermost feelings which instigate their actions and which are the internal enemies of regulations.
Whenever the freedom-seeking nature of man and hundreds of other instincts (such as selfishness, voluptuousness, which are the main causes of corruption) are ignored, there will be chaos and disturbance and the scope of differences will become wider day by day. Since all laws are always threatened by the attack and invasion of powerful rebels and the night-time attacks of ingenious robbers springing from these instincts; therefore, they fall short of preventing corruption and differences.
THE ADVANTAGE OF RELIGION OVER OTHER LAWS
The latest social method for the protection of laws is to establish penal codes and appoint officials to enforce them. But as mentioned earlier, penal laws and officials cannot restrain the mutinous nature and other rebellious instincts of man and fail to enforce social regulations.
In addition to appointing officials to maintain control and formulating regulations to castigate violators and rebels as established by human laws, religion has other powerful means at its disposal whereby it can defeat and annihilate any antagonistic force.
(1) As a result of uniting social life and the worship of the Almighty Allah, religion has initiated a divine responsibility for man in all his individual and social acts and holds man responsible in all his endeavours and hesitations.
Since Sublime Allah has full control over man by His infinite might and knowledge he is thoroughly aware of any thought that man nurtures in his mind and any secret in man's heart; and nothing is hidden to Him.
In addition to appointing an external police, religion puts man under the care of his conscience which never neglects its duty. Man cannot escape from the rewards and retribution of conscience.
The Almighty Allah states:
" ... And Allah comprehends what they do (8:47)." "... And He is with you wherever you are ,.. (57:4)." "... And your Lord will most surely pay back to all their deeds in full ...(11:111)." "... Surely Allah ever watches over you (4:1)."
If we compare the conditions of a man who is governed by laws with one who lives under the jurisdiction of religion, the advantage and superiority of religion will become quite evident. A society, whose members are all religious and perform their religious du ties and know that Allah observes their action in every respect, is protected from the malevolence of its members towards one another. Thus, the general public who live in such an environment are safeguarded against the actions and statements of others. They even have security in their thinking, whereas this purport does not exist in the laws of the universe. Religion has also prohibited man from mistrust.
"O you who believe! avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy... (49:12)."
Man feels quite comfortable in a religious environment. He will spend a lifetime in utmost joy and comfort and will attain everlasting welfare.
But in a society governed only by human laws, man refrains from unlawful acts when he sees the police watching his actions; otherwise, he may commit any offence.
(2) Under the guidance of religion, every religious person discovers the fact that his life is not limited to a life of short duration in this ephemeral world, rather there is an infinite and endless life ahead of him which does not terminate by death. He realizes that the only way to attain everlasting prosperity and eternal comfort is to follow religious laws descended by the Almighty Allah through His prophets. He knows that religious laws are descended by the Wise, Powerful, and Knowledgeable Allah who controls man's inward and outward behaviour and. who examines man's overt and covert activities. It is, therefore, impossible for man to conceal an act so as to undermine Allah's commands.
(3) According to his religious beliefs, every pious man knows that performing religious orders is, in fact, the obedience to Allah. Even if by so doing he does not get any rewards from the standpoint of servitude, he will receive a good remuneration by the favour and grace of Allah. Thus by observing religious commandments, he voluntarily makes a dealing and transaction, because he forfeits a part of his freedom willingly and, in return, gains the satisfaction of Compassionate Allah and receives an excellent reward.
By following religious rules and provisions, a, religious man quite happily engages in dealings. The more he loses his freedom, the more he receives benefits. He sells a merchandise and replaces it with a better one. But one who is not committed to religion considers the observation of laws and provisions a loss for himself. His freedom-seeking nature suffers from the loss of a part of his freedom and seeks an opportunity to set himself free from captivity in order to regain his freedom.
Be it known that religion differs from laws in other respects as well. Religious people willingly avoid committing sins, but the followers of laws only avoid committing crimes because of fear. Religion controls the entire body of pious men, whereas laws only dominate the hands and feet. Religion commands openly and secretly, but laws can only command publicly. Not only is religion a guardian preventing blameworthy acts, but also it is a teacher and educator teaching virtue and perfection. Laws, however, have no other function but to serve as police.
If we assume the benefit of other laws to be one u nit, then the advantage of religion is more than a thousand units. Thus, those who try to uproot religion by adhering to other laws resemble people who cut their legs by their hands and then replace them with wooden legs.
Thus, from the aforementioned statements, it becomes evident that religion is the best and most exalted way that can organize human society and persuade people to observe social laws more than any other method.