19 October 2015
“…I believe that religion is a form of gaining power and influence. It is an easy way to control masses hence anybody who seems to have a convincing message can lead a few needy souls astray. It is why we have all these opposing sects and ideologies within even one religion…someone always profits from it. I’m not sure if this will ever change though…it is an age old problem…”
The above was said by a young postgraduate engineering student while discussing religions, including Islam. It seems engineering discipline also develops the faculty of rationally analysing issues.
There are important points made in what appear to be a simple statement, but as usual Islam too is taken as a religion.
It is necessary to make the young person aware that although in general Islam in worldview is also a religion; it was often argued here that it is NOT a religion in the normal sense of the word, and in fact it is an antithesis of it.
In the context of the statement of the student, the following is presented with reference to Quran as to why Islam is not a religion:-
Importantly unlike religion, the use of intelligence is a prerequisite in accepting any of Islam’s commands given in the Book, the book of Code-Deen. It extols free thought and use of intelligence in number of verses, few examples:
25-73those who when reminded of the verses of their Lord, do not droop down at them as if they were deaf and blind. That is to say, scum to them in blind acceptance and without conviction.
7-179…they have hearts but they understand not, have eyes but they see not, and ears but they hear not. They are like cattle – in fact worse, for they are heedless.
“Then reflect” on the verses—Thumma Tatafakkaroon and use the faculties of intelligence given. This advice is repeated at numerous places in the Book to endorse the choice given to accept or not to accept the code freely.
Hence when intelligence and free thought are used, one cannot be compelled to accept anything unless one is convinced of its truth.
2-256, Laa Ikraha fid-Deen– Let there be no compulsion in Deen. Truth stands out clear from error…
Only when fear of harm being inflicted is present; as of Divine punishment meted out in religion, willing acceptance is not possible.
Therefore, ‘Fear God’ cannot be a part of the free choice as it would be a contradiction of the “no compulsion in Deen” edict that God Himself advocates.
The Arabic words Khauf – fear and Taqwa—consciousness of God’s laws, are juxtaposed by the best of translators, in contradiction to the arguments on intelligent use. Logically, if the Divine Power was to “compel “mankind to believe in its message, why would it then give mankind any choice?
The Bible too says “The naïve believes every word, but the shrewd ponders each step”.
‘Unity is strength’s a universally accepted maxim. A very effective tool to control people therefore is to divide them is smaller groups. ‘Divide and rule’ is the opposite maxim. Worldly powers of all sorts are well aware of it, and apply it very effectively.
Yet the Divine Power in its wisdom created mankind as one nation and urges it to remain united:
2-213, Mankind was one single nation, and God sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings, and with them He sent the Book of truth….
10-19, Mankind was but one nation, but differed later. Had it not been for the ‘word’ that went forth before from your Lord, their differences would have been settled between them?
He (God) if He had wanted would have used His big stick and herded us all in one cattle-yard!
The Divine wish, for mankind is for it to live in unity, harmony and in equality and equity. But this is clearly not in the interest of the power hungry groups; religious or otherwise.
This truth is so evident in the history of mankind; that some wise and enlightened nations have preserved the ancient “signs” of ruins of cities, statues, monuments, mosaics and paintings of mighty rulers and of elite classes of their lands for over millennia; so that the next generations would obtain knowledge and wisdom from them. Exactly as the Book had instructed.
Stratification of humanity on gender basis and into higher, lower, holy and unholy, rich and poor classes is what religions foster, but the Code of Islam forbids it and so lays out the level ground for dignity and mutual respect for one and all:
17-70, Surely We have (created) progeny of Adam-mankind- in dignity… hence all mankind including womankind, is worthy of equal respect and dignity in society.
The honorarium, godly, reverential and lofty, that are bestowed on people in power and positions, by people who consider themselves inferior to the elite. This is what the Deen came to eliminate: Walaa Tajal Ma’allahi Ilaahan Aakhara 51-51– take not with God other gods, is to be found numerously in the Book along with:-
28-88, And call not with God other gods, There are no gods but He. Everything will perish but He. The associates and lesser gods do not reside only in churches.
Logically then, if there was the slightest loophole to accommodate any object or person to higher status, then who better than any one of the divine Messengers that the All Mighty had sent over the ages and throughout the nations.
Not surprisingly therefore, every messenger is instructed to proclaim the glory of All Mighty and to establish himself at human level, leaving no hint of superiority of any kind, for example:
17-93, say “glory to my Lord the Creator; am I anything other than a human Messenger” (18-110)? Messenger yes, but at human level!
Yet even without such loophole, religions have done exactly that and associated gods with God (13-33). Equally so emperors and kings were raised as gods and sons, daughters and wives of gods.
Whether based on position of authority, religion, worldly power, learning, knowledge based or any other basis; where is there any room in the Code for such lofty titles as “your highness, your eminence, your this and your that” to be allocated to mere human beings, who eventually perish?
Yes, there is in one area, as given in the Book: that which is based on righteousness; but to judge it is strictly All Mighty Lord’s prerogative.
The poor young soul, sensitive enough to the world around him is expressing his dismay and disappointment in the statement- “I’m not sure if this will ever change though…it is an age old problem”!
The age old problem seems to be that mankind in its quest to establish itself as elite, stratified, authoritative and privileged classes, either individually, in groups or nations, has defied the natural laws that would have ensured equality, equity, harmony and peace in the world. Mankind as a whole has opted by its freewill to disbelieve and so discards the laws of nature.
Hence the world we have inherited.
When will it all be righted; seems to be the question a sensitive student is asking. Is there anybody in higher stratum of mankind who can answer him?
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer