What is the purpose of religion?

Given modern distractions, the need to understand Islam better has never been more urgent. Through this forum we can share ideas and hopefully promote the true spirit of Islam which calls for peace, justice, tolerance, inclusiveness and diversity.
ghulam muhammed
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#31

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:39 pm

Humsafar wrote:The question then arises is, what is God's will or how does one serve God?
God is not present around us in physical form hence we serve God by serving His creation and what is His best creation... Human Beings.
Humsafar wrote:All religions have different prescriptions for it? Either all religions are true or none of them are, for to determine as to which one is true religion is a subjective decision.
Although all religions have different guidelines but their ultimate worship is the super being although they may have different names for Him like God, Allah, Parmatma etc. Actually all religions are true in the real sense i.e. It commands us to worship only One Creator. All Messengers had a universal message i.e. to worship One God but unfortunately on its way many religious leaders twisted their beliefs and created a number of idols to be worshipped. As many members have rightly said that the religion from Adam's time was Islam which over the years was refined and which took the final pure form during the advent of the last Prophet (s.a.w.).
Humsafar wrote:The point is this, all religions are based on certain assumptions (that there is a particular God, he has his laws, theology, rituals etc.) and one accepts a particular religion on faith. It's like accepting a particular story about the world, its origin, purpose etc. But the problem is that you cannot story validate that story.
Lets put it in another way. Suppose 3 people staying at Bandra decide to go to Churchgate. One decides to go by local train, the other decides to go by car and the other decides to go by bus, its the individuals choice but ultimately the destination for all is churchgate its only the mode of travel which differs. Each one travels in a way in which he feels comfortable. The problem would arise only if instead of taking the train for churchgate he takes the train for Thana.
Humsafar wrote:Conversely, it is possible that reality, truth, God's will may exist independent of religion. In other words you don't need a religion to define them for you, leave alone the contest which religion best defines them.
One definately needs a uniform rule which is universally acceptable to all eg. theft,murder, cheating is prohibited in all religions but a gangster may like to have his own set of rules which becomes non acceptable to everyone only because everyone irrespective of his belief will not subscribe to that because all beliefs/religions prohibit such acts. I agree that there is also a human angle to it but how and who decided as to the true meaning of humanity.
Humsafar wrote:The question is which guidance you pick from the supermarket of guidances.
More or less the basic guidance in all religions are the same.
Humsafar wrote:Religions are stories about him.
No. They are not stories but facts which some may agree to and some may not. Even if you think they are stories but the aim of the stories is to learn something from it which may help you in your life.

Aarif
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#32

Unread post by Aarif » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:03 pm

Humsafar,

Since different religions have different selling points, instead of concentrating on religions let's shift the gears and talk about the followers i.e. human race in general. Anything and everything can be possibly divided into two broad categories i.e. good and bad or right and wrong as far as humans are concerned. The good or right becomes our strengths and wrong or bad becomes our weaknesses in general. E.g. falling for lust is considered as a weakness whereas overcoming lust is considered as a strength. A morally strong person will stay away from lust whereas a weak one will fall for it. Similarly stealing something that does not belong to you is considered bad whereas not stealing something that does not belong to you is considered good. Going by this analogy a question arises that why there are two different sides of the same coin or more importantly why a coin has two sides? Why there are two aspects to everything? Since, Allah is the creator he could have simply kept his creation away from vices that forces them to do the most heinous and brutal acts against humanity that he expects us to protect at every cost. My basic question is why create human beings with so many weaknesses in first place and than expect them to overcome these weaknesses? Why not just give them only strengths and no weaknesses? Talking about freedom, there is a famous qoute that "With freedom comes responsibility". Going by this should a person enjoying most freedom should be the most responsible one? What if we are not bound by any rules and regulations? Will this world be a better place than? The point that I am trying to make is that even if you completely isolate the human race from concept of religion, there is no way one can answer these important questions about human race. Why we are what we are is a more important question that needs to be addressed before continuing this discussion forward...

Fatwa Banker
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#33

Unread post by Fatwa Banker » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:21 pm

ghulam muhammed wrote:Lets put it in another way. Suppose 3 people staying at Bandra decide to go to Churchgate. One decides to go by local train, the other decides to go by car and the other decides to go by bus, its the individuals choice but ultimately the destination for all is churchgate its only the mode of travel which differs.
Not quite, because if Churchgate does not exist it will be a long journey and all 3 individuals will be lost at some point. The 4th guy in Bandra who does not embark upon the journey as he does not believe Churchgate exists, will stay back at his hotel and enjoy the amenities.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#34

Unread post by anajmi » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:25 pm

Humsafar,

We started with the purpose of religion and then ended up with - "Since there are many religions, none of them can be true". That is the reason I wanted to start another thread as I knew where you were going to go. Anyway, I have shown it before that to ask that question, is illogical and non-sensical. If God is, then religion has to be. God didn't just create you to let you be did he? What is the point in creating you if he doesn't give a shit about what you do and what you don't?

Look at it from a different perspective. If humans created religion and screwed up mother earth, and if God is, then isn't it his responsiblity to save us from religion?

Then a different one. Let us say that God created all religions and hence all religions are true. Now, God has given you a lot of choice, if you still choose to be a disbeliever, you deserve hell.

And another one. God created only one religion and that is the only true religion. Some of us will be saved, some of us will go to hell. If we consider 5 major religions on earth, then the chances of me going to heaven are 20%. What are your chances?

And the last one. There is no God. Then it was humans that created God and created religion. What are you going to do now? You still choose to toe the Dawoodi-Bohra line of Dai and Imam and the works. You are just as guilty as the next religious person. Even more so, since you are being deceptive.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#35

Unread post by anajmi » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:02 pm

I understand that free will comes with personal accountability and responsibility, I'm trying to argue that it exists independent of religion.
Obviously it does not. If it did, then you wouldn't have to pretend to be a reformist trying to reform the Syedna. You would be trying to get out of bohraism. And please don't tell me that you are bound by family. We all are bound by families. I won't be getting buried anywhere near my family members when I die, if the bohra clergy have their way. Still, I choose to stand by what I believe in. That is my free will.

Thai
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#36

Unread post by Thai » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:36 pm

Can the concept of free-will and accountability be independent of religion?
On a limited scope---Yes, it can be independent of religion, in that our concept of "law and Justice" also incorporates the idea that we choose to follow or not follow the "law" and therefore are accountable for our actions.(and that our degree of accountability is dependent on our capabilities----a child or a person with mental limitations/handicap is less accountable than an adult....)
Depending on the definition of "religion",---the concept of free-will and accountability cannot exist without answering all the other questions--such as ---Who/What is God, Why were we created? what is the purpose of life?/why are we here? what happens to us after this life?.......etc.

What religion to choose?
(first-----let me define "religion" here as a "way of life")
Most religions (with the exception of Christianity), affirm that Human Beings are created inherently good (and one only needs to look at a baby or a young child to instinctively understand this point) Therefore, we should choose a religion that provides us with a path that can strengthen our "inherent goodness". If our "true nature' is inherently good, then religion (way of life) should be one that helps us get in touch with (aware of) this "goodness/true nature" so that we can strenghten it--for that, the religion needs to understand human nature. Most Eastern religions will do a fairly good job of this. However,If you study comparitive religions, you will find that Islam "completes" all other previous religions---in that the very simple yet powerful concept of Tawhid encompasses and clarifies all other concepts from Governance of states/nations, military strategy, systems of social justice, law, economics, inner spirituality, as well as giving us intellectually satisfying concepts of free-will/accountability ...etc. Nevertheless---religion is what we make of it and in the end, it is our choice to make the best out of whatever religious choice we have decided on.

Thai
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#37

Unread post by Thai » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:47 pm

Why do we need a complete system? Isn't the pursuit of inner spirituality enough?
Yogis, Buddhists, monks and individuals have practiced various ways to attain inner spirituality. Through their spiritual discipline, they have tried to understand the Divine. However, our responsibility is not just to "self". It isn't enough to simply "know God"----our belief (inner spirituality)must help transform the "outer" creation into peace and harmony.----That is, Right belief which promotes right intentions that leads to right actions for the betterment of all of God's creations. .......and that is what the Quran is all about.

Aarif
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#38

Unread post by Aarif » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:17 pm

Most religions (with the exception of Christianity), affirm that Human Beings are created inherently good
If human beings are created inherently good than why the human race has deteriorated so much with time? If we assume that all people are born good than why it is so difficult for them to remain that way? It has been analyzed that the basic nature of a human being is formed within the first 4-5 years after her/his birth. Going by this our virtues should become stronger with time since we are born good. But that is not the case and most of us change for the worst with time. Today people are willing to kill each other for nothing. Humans are destroying the very nature and environment that sustains and supports them. Why there is so much hunger, so much poverty and so many lethal deseases all around us? Well as I said we do not UNDERSTAND ourselves or our race enough as of now. Most of us either end up taking support of religion or blaming it to answer these questions. In my opinion religion helps us if we keep it at individual level i.e. each to his own level. The problem starts when we try to force things on others in the name of religion. But again as I said discussing that should be next step and not the first.

Humsafar
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#39

Unread post by Humsafar » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:10 pm

ghulam mohammed wrote:More or less the basic guidance in all religions are the same.
I agree, and therefore no one religion claim monopoly on truth and declare it is as superior or perfect.
Aarif wrote:...if you completely isolate the human race from concept of religion, there is no way one can answer these important questions about human race.
Religions attempt to answer these important questions, but it is not necessary that religions alone have the answer. Mystics and masters of the past have found the answer and most of them had nothing to do with religion. Like Buddha and Jesus. Neither of them followed any religion nor started any.
anajmi wrote:Then a different one. Let us say that God created all religions and hence all religions are true. Now, God has given you a lot of choice, if you still choose to be a disbeliever, you deserve hell.
You're funny, but your sense of humour does not contribute to the debate. I may go to hell if there is one, but this discussion is not about me.
Thai wrote:Depending on the definition of "religion",---the concept of free-will and accountability cannot exist without answering all the other questions--such as ---Who/What is God, Why were we created? what is the purpose of life?/why are we here? what happens to us after this life?.......etc.
Even if these questions are answered - which most religions do - they cannot be validated. You'll have to take somebody's word for it.
Thai wrote:However,If you study comparitive religions, you will find that Islam "completes" all other previous religions---in that the very simple yet powerful concept of Tawhid
There is no such thing as "complete" - the universe is ever-evolving. As for Tawhid, it was not new. The concept of oneness and unity of God have long been part of ancient Indian and Chinese culture. Even monotheism predates Moses.
Thai wrote:However, our responsibility is not just to "self". It isn't enough to simply "know God"----our belief (inner spirituality)must help transform the "outer" creation into peace and harmony.
How? By imposing religion on unsuspecting people. Secular laws can achieve the same result. Those who achieve inner spirituality do not need laws nor religion.
Thai wrote:Right belief which promotes right intentions that leads to right actions for the betterment of all of God's creations. .......and that is what the Quran is all about.
Maybe. But there are other sources and scriptures that do the same. Even so, the point is right belief and right action is only at the level of intellect - the soul remains untouched. Secular laws and civil society can also create betterment of God's creations.

Aarif
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#40

Unread post by Aarif » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:19 pm

The point that I am trying to make is that even if you completely isolate the human race from concept of religion, there is no way one can answer these important questions about human race.
Humsafar,

This was my original qoute.. It seems you mis-interpreted it. Actually I was trying to say the same thing as you. Religion has nothing to do with all this. Only select few special people have understood these questions and have tried to answer them as per their understanding. But than the question arises why are these questions so difficult inspite of being so basic? Why is the human race in caos and confusion?

Humsafar
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#41

Unread post by Humsafar » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:25 pm

Sorry Aarif, my bad. Yes, that is the question: Why is the human race in caos and confusion?
The answer is that another person's understanding does not help me. Each one of us have to find our own answers - our own salvation. Guidance, advice, wisdom of others can help - and there have been more than enough of it - but it seems it is not enough.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#42

Unread post by anajmi » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:32 pm

How? By imposing religion on unsuspecting people. Secular laws can achieve the same result.
"Thou shall not kill" and "Killing is illegal as per IPC 3124" can both be deemed secular and religious at the same time. There is no such thing as a non-religious secular law. I am not sure I understand the "By imposing religion on unsuspecting people" statement. Can you be more specific? Who is imposing and who is unsuspecting? I would consider you to be just as imposing for obvious reasons.
Those who achieve inner spirituality do not need laws nor religion.
How do you know? Have you ever tried it?

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#43

Unread post by anajmi » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:33 pm

Each one of us have to find our own answers
Sure. But your condition is that the answers the religious have found are wrong. And unless they find answers that are you are ok with, they need to keep looking.

Human
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#44

Unread post by Human » Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:35 pm

I agree with Humsafar, Aarif and Thai's posts.

anajmi,
I meditate and I find true peace in doing that. In saying that I also do my namaaz as per Islamic laws.
So I believe I've tried to attain inner spirituality by meditation and I do not need any religious laws to do that. Instead the meditating leads me to something, it leads me to humanity. I think all religions basically preach humanity, don't they?

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#45

Unread post by anajmi » Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:43 pm

Define "Inner Spirituality", "Meditation". And what are the religious laws that you do not need? And why do you need meditation to get humane? Any one who doesn't meditate is not inhumane is he?

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#46

Unread post by anajmi » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:10 pm

As I had explained earlier, the purpose of religion is not to tell you to be humane. Being humane is a good thing and religions asks you to be humane. Parents teach their kids to be humane. Doesn't mean you tell your parents that I will meditate and figure it out and you don't need to teach me. The purpose of religion was to tell us our purpose on earth, which as per Islam is to serve God. Being humane is one of the ways to serve God.

Human
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#47

Unread post by Human » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:13 pm

anajmi wrote:Define "Inner Spirituality", "Meditation". And what are the religious laws that you do not need? And why do you need meditation to get humane? Any one who doesn't meditate is not inhumane is he?
anajmi, I cannot define inner spirituality. That is something that has to be felt, I don't even know if you can actually define it. Tried to make a definition of meditation, but couldn't do that either. Very hard to put in words. Lets just say I close my eyes and I ask for forgiveness from Allah. Its just my way of feeling closer to Allah. When I pray namaaz I do ask for forgiveness of my sins after finishing namaaz but somehow when I'm meditating I feel closer to Allah and that he's listening to me. Words can never be enough to express those feelings.

Meditation is not necessary to be humane. People can be good humans themselves or by following the basic rules of any religion. But in the modern world, most people skip past these basic rules as they are led to believe that religion is all about following the rules of prayers, or its about where you pray, how you pray, how you dress up, what you eat, etc. So much importance is given to these other things that the basics are easily forgotten. It is just my personal opinion that meditation actually reminds me of the basic humanity rules. It might or might not be true for everyone else. Also in my personal opinion I don't need to meditate to be humane, it is just a means like religion that reminds me of being a good human. Otherwise in the past, I used to be too self-centered and selfish as I was worried most about my own life and did not care about the poor or the starving or the sick or the dying masses. I still used to do the namaaz and read quran and felt as if I was doing my compulsory bits and they were good enough. But somehow I did not feel as close to Allah before as I do now. I would once again say that words cannot describe my feelings nicely on this topic.

Human
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#48

Unread post by Human » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:17 pm

anajmi wrote:As I had explained earlier, the purpose of religion is not to tell you to be humane. Being humane is a good thing and religions asks you to be humane. Parents teach their kids to be humane. Doesn't mean you tell your parents that I will meditate and figure it out and you don't need to teach me. The purpose of religion was to tell us our purpose on earth, which as per Islam is to serve God. Being humane is one of the ways to serve God.
anajmi, perhaps you took my post in a wrong sense.
You are right, parents do teach their kids to be humane. It is just a question of how many actually remember and follow it. According to me there should be some means that keeps reminding them constantly of this. My parents did teach me lessons of humanity and how to differentiate good from bad, but I admit to have not always followed everything they taught me. It was my bad. But meditating opened my eyes. This is again my personal opinion and might not apply to everyone.

Parents always teach their kids a lot of good things, but unfortunately kids don't always necessarily carry all that with them throughout their course of life.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#49

Unread post by anajmi » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:38 pm

Human,

That is precisely the point I was trying to make. Religion is not just there to tell you to be humane. There are a lot of things that teach you to be humane. You follow one or the other. It doesn't mean that you don't need one thing as long as you have the other. To say that you do not need religion to teach you to be humane is like saying you don't need parents to teach you to be humane as long as you are meditating, because most of us forget what parents teach us. Meditation works for you, religion works for most of the others out there and "no religion" works for some and some might remember what their parents taught them. But to get back to my point, that is not the purpose of religion.

Thai
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#50

Unread post by Thai » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:01 pm

These are my opinions, given in a spirit of sharing......
I am going to assume that these questions are asked seriously and not simply for the sake of argumentation..........

@ Aarif, Humsafar
If human beings are inherently good, why is there evil?

Both Judaism and Islam have interesting answers to this problem......We have the biological body, but we also have a "self" or consciousness. In Judaism and Islam this "self" is divided into "levels" The "egoic"/"animal" self (Judaism=Yezter Ha Ra, Islam=Nafs ammarah) and the "transegoic" self (Judaism=Yezter Ha Tov, Islam=nafs lawama----the highest level is (peace) Judaism=Neshama, Islam=nafs mutmainna) ....We understand and interact with our world through the senses of our body. It is essential that "we"/"self" ensure the survival of our body---eat when we are hungry, find companionship when we are lonely, shelter and clothing when we need protection...etc These "desires" are therefore essential for our survival. Yet, these "desires" can get out of hand---for example, we can overindulge in eating, creating health problems and jeopordize our survival. However, we have been created in "goodness" and we have an inbuilt system that can help promote "balance and harmony", with the transegoic self. egoic desires (pride, hate, arrogance, fear...etc) strengthen our egoic self but compassion strengthens our transegoic self----because when we think of the needs of another---we are less concerned/consumed with our own desires. Different religions have different methods of strengthening the transegoic self----In Islam we have prayer, charity and fasting.

Ego is tempting---the concepts of "I" and "Mine" define our identity and we would feel lost without identity (a self-defined concept of "self"). Our outer "symbols" enhance our "identity"---good clothes, fancy cars....etc. Most religions help to balance this temptation by recalling us to spirituality----our "inner" spiritual self. So, why hasn't it worked? ---because most of us do not ask hard questions of religion---such as---what is the purpose of religion----and therefore fail to understand how it can be used for the betterment of all of God's creation.
(---which is why "Right Belief" is more important than simply believing .) How we use knowledge, religious or otherwise, is upto us. We can choose to waste it, choose to use it for evil, or choose to use it for good.

Thai
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#51

Unread post by Thai » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:41 pm

@ Humsafar -----further to your questions........

Validation of religion.
We cannot see the wind, Yet we can observe its effects on nature so we know it exists. Once we assume wind exists, we can make instruments that measure it and experiments that recreate the various aspects of wind to understand its properties.
Like the wind, God/Divine cannot be "seen", it can only be inferred through its effects on creation. Once we assume God exists, "religion" falls into place, it shows us the way to understand the Divine. However, this is an individual journey---we are all unique in our life experiences, therefore, how we understand the Divine is also a unique experience.

Universe evolves----From a human-centric point of view, this is true.
Tawhid is not new----This is also True and Islam confirms it.

How "inner spirituality" can help transform the "outer" world/space into peace and harmony?
and....can secular laws achieve the same result?

Human beings have the power to effect the world/space around us. (We only need to look at the mess we have created so far to know how true this is). Therefore, if we can create a mess----it stands to reason that WE can also clean it up. If we have the power to effect the wolrd/space around us---then it is upto us to choose if it is for better or for worse. Most Eastern religions have come to the conclusion that if human nature is "good" it will naturally effect a transformation for good. Therefore, it is essential for religion to promote and strengthen this inherent "goodness" in human nature. To this end, various ways such as Yoga, meditation, retreat, and other types of spiritual discipline have been created. In Islam, the 5 pillars are the ways of spritual discipline. But, the Quran also provides further guidelines/advice for both inner and outer peace and harmony.
Secualr Laws can be of great help to provide Justice---and peace and harmony cannot exist without justice. However, secular laws (Islamic law/Jurisprudence--Fiq ) control the outer behaviour of humans.

Thai
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#52

Unread post by Thai » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:49 pm

Religion will only go as far as WE decide we want it to take us. The choice to use it for its full potential is upto US.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#53

Unread post by anajmi » Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:44 pm

Thai,

Reading what you write is a pleasure. I have much to learn. Very well said.

Humsafar
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#54

Unread post by Humsafar » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:58 pm

Thai,
Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I completely agree with you about ego and transego, personal and transpersonal. And as you have explained – quite eruditely I might add – that such ideas exist in all major religions. It is not that I don’t agree with them – in fact, I’ve been saying the same thing elsewhere on the Forum – but these philosophical ideas form the esoteric part of religions. When I started the thread, I had a more down-to-earth, everyday, practical aspects of religion in mind. I’m concerned with the system of beliefs, pieties, rituals and practices that a religion requires of or imposes on (anajmi, this is what I meant) its followers. I’m concerned with system of reward and punishment – do these things and you go to heaven, if not then to eternal fire of hell. I’m concerned with religions’ exclusive claims to uniqueness and monopoly of truth.

If the purpose of religion is to teach us to be humane and righteous and all that then it is completely fine with me. But religions do not stop at that: They construct a story about the universe and God and compel you to believe in that story and tell you to do everything that story tells you to do. So, it seems the purpose of religion is not just to teach you to live a humane, righteous life. It is more than that. It is this “more than that” that concerns me, and it is this which I believe cannot be validated. Every religion has its own story and its own internal and self-referencing logic to justify that story. But that story is only valid with the parameters of that particular religion.

This is what I mean when I talk about validation, and not about proof of God or any such thing. You say, “Once we assume God exists, "religion" falls into place, it shows us the way to understand the Divine.” This is where religion has got things backwards. Assuming that God exists is a very weak and feeble foundation on which to build a belief system. No wonder religions have to try so hard to make people do what it wants them to do. The Divine is not to be assumed but realised (or experienced or whatever it is), and once realized you don’t need a religion. Look at the realised or enlightened people in history – all they talked about after their realisation was oneness of God, and equated God to Love and to Truth. Did they ever need any religion? Conversely, religion in its prosaic sense can never lead to enlightenment – as it tangles you up in pieties and rituals and asks you to assume the existence of God. Such an assumption is only an idea in the mind not a deep-seated reality that can come only come through self-realisation.

You say, “However, this is an individual journey---we are all unique in our life experiences, therefore, how we understand the Divine is also a unique experience.” Right, as I’ve been saying each one of us has to find our own salvation. Religion can’t help one here. Because orgainsed religion tries to translate this world for you and in the process may provide a sop for your soul, but it cannot and does not help you to transform your consciousness.

ghulam muhammed
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#55

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:06 pm

Humsafar wrote:I’m concerned with system of reward and punishment – do these things and you go to heaven, if not then to eternal fire of hell.
This reminds me of a very interesting, spiritual quote from the great sufi saint Rabia Basri (r.a.).....

She is reported to have walked the streets of Basra, a flaming torch in one hand, and a bucket of water in the other. When her intentions were questioned, Rabi'a replied: I want to pour water into Hell and set fire to Paradise so that these two veils disappear and nobody worships God out of fear of Hell or hope for Paradise, but only for the sake of His eternal beauty....

questions
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#56

Unread post by questions » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:19 pm

Brother Ghulam Muhammad,

Thank you for posting that profound quote. Maza aa gaya. Gives us all something to strive for...

Aarif
Posts: 1426
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#57

Unread post by Aarif » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:23 pm

Good post Thai.. Your thoughts are deep. However, my question is related to a common man who cannot think at your level. Allah has not made us equal atleast in terms of our intellectual capacities. Those who understand the difference between right and wrong at each level will agree with you. But unfortunately the world is full of ignorance and intolerance. E.g. We have teeth for chewing that in turn facilitates digestion. So teeth have a purpose in that sense. On similar lines what is the purpose of our weaknesses that destroy our harmony? If you carefully observe human nature, we easily succumb to our weaknesses. This is precisely the reason for our downfall. Human history is full of blood and tyranny. The more advanced we get the more blood we shed. So why nature has created us in such a way that we will ultimately end up destroying ourselves? Looking at the current state of world it is obvious that we are retrogressing instead of progressing. If you look at evolution you will realize that all the creatures that have survived so far have done so by adopting to the environment. Going by that humans with their intellectual capacity should have faired much better than others. But unfortunately that is not the case. Today our weaknesses have become our strengths and our strengths are considered as our weaknesses. E.g. in today's world a honest person will find it more difficult to survive than a dishonest person. The more you lie the better off you are. Christ said that if someone slaps you on your right cheek offer him your left cheek. Today, a person doing so will be considered a coward and an idiot... Take the case of Dawoodi bohras. Inspite of all the corruption spread by the Dai, they are willing to donate their skins to him. On the other hand see how the honest reformists who are fighting against this corruption are treated.

ghulam muhammed
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:34 pm

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#58

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:36 pm

questions wrote:Brother Ghulam Muhammad,

Thank you for posting that profound quote. Maza aa gaya. Gives us all something to strive for...
Thanks Bro questions.

Al Zulfiqar
Posts: 4609
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2006 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#59

Unread post by Al Zulfiqar » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:47 pm

ghulam muhammed wrote:
Humsafar wrote:I’m concerned with system of reward and punishment – do these things and you go to heaven, if not then to eternal fire of hell.
This reminds me of a very interesting, spiritual quote from the great sufi saint Rabia Basri (r.a.).....

She is reported to have walked the streets of Basra, a flaming torch in one hand, and a bucket of water in the other. When her intentions were questioned, Rabi'a replied: I want to pour water into Hell and set fire to Paradise so that these two veils disappear and nobody worships God out of fear of Hell or hope for Paradise, but only for the sake of His eternal beauty....
something similar is quoted by bertrand russel, the great philospher, logician, mathematician and man of letters.

he observes a whole bunch of people going to church over several different services and asks each one of them what is the reason for their visiting the house of god. some have problems in their personal lives, money, love, illness and poverty, etc and are going to pray for help. some others are going because they have some important event coming up, like a job interview and need divine help. some are going because it is their usual practice. some are going because every sunday their group meets there, or some young boys and girls are secretly crossing eyes. some others fear the wrath of god if they dont go. some are under orders from their parents and elders. all have some mundane reasons or the other.

not one of them mentioned that he was just going to appreciate the bounties that god and this world have provided him and to thank god for all the beauty surrounding him.

ghulam muhammed
Posts: 11653
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:34 pm

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#60

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:58 pm

Some other beautiful quotes from Rabia Basri (r.a.) :

"O my Lord, the stars are shining and the eyes of men are closed, and kings have shut their doors, and every lover is alone with his beloved, and here I am alone with Thee."

She was asked once if she hated Satan and she replied:
"My love to God has so possessed me that no place remains for loving or hating any save Him."

When a male friend once suggested she should pray for relief from a debilitating illness, she said,
"O Sufyan, do you not know Who it is that wills this suffering for me? Is it not God Who wills it? When you know this, why do you bid me ask for what is contrary to His will? It is not well to oppose one's Beloved."

God unveiled himself in all his beauty and re-vealed the Beatific Vision. For this vision, she willingly gave up all lesser joys.
"O my Lord," she prayed, "if I worship Thee from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me thence, but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, then withhold not from me Thine Eternal Beauty."