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.
anajmi
Posts: 13402
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#61

Unread post by anajmi » Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:45 pm

The Divine is not to be assumed but realised (or experienced or whatever it is),
That last part, "whatever it is", did the trick. You have no clue.
rituals and practices that a religion requires of or imposes
quote]It is this “more than that” that concerns me[/quote]

Acutally that is what makes a religion, a religion. That is what separates the believers from the disbelivers. If there is a God, then the believers go to heaven. If there is no God, then humanity screwed itself and not religion.
Assuming that God exists is a very weak and feeble foundation on which to build a belief system.
That was actually very funny. It completely ignores everything that has been discussed so far. No one assumes God exists. Do you want proof? :wink:
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.
Unfortunately, people like you do not believe them do you?
Such an assumption is only an idea in the mind not a deep-seated reality that can come only come through self-realisation.
Your self-realization is that there is no God and mine is that there is a God and Islam is the true religion. Everything else you are saying is just mumbo jumbo.
Right, as I’ve been saying each one of us has to find our own salvation.
Well, some of us have found ours. I have found mine.
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.
More mumbo jumbo.

Thai
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#62

Unread post by Thai » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:46 am

@anajmi
Thankyou, I enjoy your posts as well and have learned much from you.

@humsafar
Is it possible that we both have a different understanding/definition of religion?
I am not sure I completely understand your concerns---would you like to elaborate?---perhaps with examples?

@aarif
You bring up some interesting points which I would like to address---but if you would allow---I would like to elaborate on this one first....
"We are not equal in our intellectual abilities"....very good point.......In fact, if you were to say, we are pretty much "unequal" in many aspects such as wealth, freedoms, health,....etc, it would not be far off the mark. On the surface, it may seem that our observations contradict with the Quran which says that mankind is equal! The Chinese have an interesting way to understand "Reality"--they understand it in terms of a "duality" which they call Ying and Yang." "Harmony" is created in a balance of Ying/Yang. This is very useful in understanding the concepts in the Quran as well because of the sophisticated nuance of its ideas. Therefore---those who are blessed with more also have more responsibilities, but those who have less, also have less responsibilities. (For example, a poor person need not do charity.) This "duality" creates a balance or "equality". Those who have been given Guidance have more responsibility to understand and follow it (to the best of their abilities) than those who have not been given Guidance. We human beings have our weaknesses, yet we also have our strengths---to achieve harmony, both must be in balance. (I know it apears like a crazy idea!). Let's take that concept of the Egoic self and Transegoic self I mentioned in the previous post,---for this particular purpose, let us equate "egoic self"=weakness, and "transegoic self"=strength. It is pretty easy to see what happens when there is an imbalance towards the egoic self---the world we live in is a pretty good example----but wouldn't an imbalance towards a transegoic self create a paradise?---Actually no, the reality is that some sufis, yogis, buddhists, monks and mystics are solitary . They "forsake the world" so to speak. This type of spirituality is not good for everyone. Human beings have responsibilities---Parents, family, society, nation...and even "self"(we have to eat, sleep...etc) to abandon our responsibilities in the pursuit of spirituality is IRRESPONSIBLE and as such cannot create harmony/balance. ----Our pursuit of inner spirituality must be balanced with our outer responsibilities in order to create balance and harmony. The struggle to pursue Taqwa(God-awareness) while fully engaging with life is the "Greater Jihad".

Thai
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#63

Unread post by Thai » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:28 am

@aarif.......your other questions...
-Why is there diversity?
Those who have the intellectual capacity to understand, have the responsibility to share with others--thus, they are a teacher of another, who is a student. In order for a teacher to be able to teach, there needs to be a student---one who has not yet achieved the full potential of his intellectual abilitities. For those who have been blessed with wealth, have the responsibility to share---they do cahrity, yet that requires there be someone to recieve the charity! It is our diversity that strenghtens us in compassion, tolerance, patience and justice.
-Will we end up destroying ourselves?
This interesting question was asked of God by the angles (somewhere in surah 2, I think?).
At the present trajectory it seems likely-----however, personally, I think it is best to trust in God and do what we can to fulfill our responsibilities to the best of our abilities. The Quran says God is Compassionate and Merciful and I believe that.
-Frustrations with corruption.
I can sympathise and even commend your desire to see an end to corruption. We only have control on "self". We may have some influence on others but we cannot force them to change. Yet, even a single raindrop can cause ripples on still waters. So, don't give up hope on goodness.

@Ghulam Muhammad
I enjoyed your quotes...thankyou
here is one from Ibn Siraj (12th century CE--I think)
scatter your good deeds all around, not caring whether they fall on those near or far. Just as the rain never cares where the clouds pour it out, whether on fertile ground or on rocks.

feelgud
Posts: 725
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#64

Unread post by feelgud » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:38 am

[quote="Thai]. The struggle to pursue Taqwa(God-awareness) while fully engaging with life is the "Greater Jihad".[/quote]
your quote reminds me the following:

By the sun and its rising
brightness 2 and by the moon as
it follows it, 3 and by the day as
it reveals its glory 4 and by the
night when it draws a veil over
it, 5 by the sky and how He built
it 6 and by the earth and how He
spread it, 7 by the soul and how
He formed it, 8 then inspired it to
understand what was right and
wrong for it. 9 He who purifies it
will indeed be successful, 10 and
he who corrupts it is sure to fail.[91:1-10]

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

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#65

Unread post by Al Zulfiqar » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:49 pm

thai,

good posts. you have mentioned in one of your posts, about sadhus and other godmen denouncing this world and achieving nirvana - the highest level of peace, and thus realising the essence of divinity or higher spiritual consciousness by imposing rigorous self-discipline, penance, and austerity upon themselves. as you have rightly mentioned they may have found their true self and purified their souls but what about the other 'selves' around them, or the greater good? that does not get impacted or influenced by their acts of purification in isolation.

that is why islam considers it haraam when someone renounces marriage, society, children, or the world at large. that is why we do not have clergy that remain single and celibate like the sadhus or Buddhist monks, jesuit priests or nuns, nor do we find pious muslims who decide not to have children as they do out in the west and keep cats and dogs instead. islam emphasises the attainment of spirituality and observance of one's faith inspite of juggling this world's myriad responsibilities which come with being a good son, brother, father and son-in-law, employee or boss etc. keeping one's integrity and moral strength while surmounting all the difficult tasks of living the life of a normal human being is a far greater test than simply renouncing this world and our responsibilities towards others, the other 'selves.

to be a good muslim means not being just very pious and spiritual yrself but also being a good and dutiful son, brother, father and all the other roles that we would have typically play in our lives. the trials and tribulations that a muslim thus faces brings him humility, compassion and empathy and a deeper understanding of not only his fellow human beings but what god and religion are all about.

Interestingly, if one approaches an impartial study of all the great world religions, one finds that they all converge at a certain point, of course shorn of all their superficial layers of (mostly) unnecessary practices and superfluous rituals which are nothing but a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo designed by latter day clergy to fascinate and mystify the masses and suitably control them.

And it is also interesting when studying law and the origins and development of social and secular laws, that in almost all countries and societies, the basis of those laws was originally derived from religion. Once societies evolved and became more complex in their functioning, moving on from barter trade to money, and technology started developing, religion alone proved inadequate. Because no religion can give you the nitty gritty details on every little aspect of human behavior or practice. What every religion has set out to do is give you the general rules and set the mores. So whenever some fool here asks for confirmation for something from the quran for a silly divergence of practice or observance of worship etc, then that person has not understood the essence of religion and is never going to understand the true essence of it.

what humsafar is trying to explain here (if I may) is that for such lakeer ke fakeer, religion will never progress beyond their narrow-minded one dimensional mindset. But for those who have atleast come even a little close to the spirituality which every religion is trying to convey, then religion has served some purpose for them. The rest are just petty nitpickers who are engrossed like monkeys searching for those elusive lice and nits which constitutes their sum total understanding of religion. In the hands and minds of such fanatics, religion is a dangerous tool, resulting in a continuously divisive and hate-filled diatribe. Imposing their views and enforcing its rigid practices is for them set in stone and becomes their very raison de’ etre.

For those able to rise above the petty and mundane rituals and egoistic impositions of latter day clergy for their own vested interests in the day-to-day observance of religion, religion has long ago served its purpose. For such individuals have delved into the essence of the perfume, so to say, and do not need the solvents and fillers and fancy bottle and packaging and sexy advertising.

For early civilizations when human societies were at a nascent stage of development, religion was necessary as it provided a uniform code of laws, but which were not always based on morality, justice and equality. (eg. the hindu caste system) It also set up a system of rewards and punishments, but as our societies and needs have become more complex, many of the newer laws in the west in fact contradict religion. Eg. on homosexuality, adultery, abortion and drug addiction among others. This has happened because religion is no longer considered as the basis of the modern state and the 2 have been separated to function in their own spheres.

Having said this, for many, religion is very much an integral part of their lives. It brings them spiritual solace. Perhaps they do not want to engage in a constant dialogue with their intellect or reasoning mind and are happy to settle on one solution which seems to fit the bill, it is for them a spiritual band-aid which they can stretch over their wounds. For those who have come to this stage, they will resist to the utmost if any flaws in their belief are pointed out. Witness the abdes who fear even any private internal mental dissent. The prospects of being confronted with the ugly truth are too loathsome for such people even to contemplate.

In my own personal experience, those rare individuals who have approached and obtained the spiritual benefits from their religion, generally are humbled by it, they teach by silence in setting an example, they live lives of integrity, simplicity and selflessness. But the majority, esp. those who have only convinced themselves into submission, those who fear their own insecurities and ignorance, are the ones who arrogantly issue diktats to others and take on the false mantle of guardianship, ready to pounce and tear apart those who disagree with them. Humility is curiously absent from such individuals.

In the end, religion or religious experience is to each his own, and as many others before me have pointed out, religion and spirituality are 2 totally different things altogether. We can obtain one through the other but they don’t have to be mutually inclusive.

ghulam muhammed
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#66

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:35 pm

All the prophets were non-materialistic and they taught Asceticism to their followers. But they all had to eat, drink and suffice for the needs of those who were under their guardianship.

We will find the best way of keeping balance between the requirement of the body and the soul – this life and the hereafter – is presented in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).

Here are some of his teachings:

A man came to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of Allah, guide me to such an action which if I do it Allah will love me and the people will also love me.'' Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.)said, "Have no desire for this world, Allah will love you; and have no desire for what people possess, and the people will love you.''

Asceticism – which is in Arabic called “Zuhd” and means to be non-materialistic – does not mean renunciation of the world and obligations of life. What it really means is that one should be contented with what one possesses and rid oneself of greed.

Islam neither permits renunciation of the world nor does it condemn genuine struggle to acquire wealth and riches. Therefore, involvement in worldly affairs and struggle through lawful means of livelihood are not against Zuhd. A person who is contented with the lawful means of income is a distinguished person as all his activities are exalted to the level of worship.

Similarly, unconcern with the wealth and riches of others and ignoring them is a part of Zuhd and contentment. One additional advantage of it is that such a person wins the love and respect of the people because he who begs people, rather than Allah, has to suffer disgrace and is disliked by the people. The case of begging from Allah is just the opposite. The more a person begs Him, the more pleased He will be with him. In fact, He is displeased if someone does not beg Him.

As for his life style we find that his wife Aisha (r.a.) reported: The Messenger of Allah died when my house was void of any edible thing except for a small quantity of barley I had on a shelf and from which I kept eating it for a long time. Then when I measured what was left of it, it soon finished [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

While during the last days of the Prophet (s.a.w.) the financial position of the Muslims had largely improved and he could have lived a comfortable life if he liked, but he stuck to the same austere life which he had led earlier.

He used to say: "Be in the world like a stranger or a wayfarer".
He also said:"Look at those who are inferior to you and do not look at those who are superior to you, for this will keep you from belittling Allah's Favor to you.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

By looking at the worldly goods and riches of others, a person gradually becomes unthankful for the blessings which Allah has bestowed on him. The best remedy for this "disease" is that which has been prescribed by Prophet (s.a.w.). The remedy is that one should look at the people who have lesser worldly goods and riches than one's own.

Humsafar
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#67

Unread post by Humsafar » Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:09 pm

anajmi,
caught that you are in your neat little story of severing God, whatever I say of course would seem mumbo jumbo to you. But no matter. To answer what did the trick for you, you must have heard of sufis and mystics who talk of direct experience of God, a sudden insight, a self-realisation, a divine revelation, an act of grace - it has been variously described. The experience is intensely personal and indescribable and incommunicable and not the same for everyone. You can call it enlightenment - a state of consciousness in which one knows and experiences the unity of being or oneness of God. In this state God is nothing but pure absolute Love - beyond being served or wanting to be served. Ghulam Moahmmed's quote of Rabia Basri about hell and paradise is exactly what an enlightened person would say. But then that would all be mumbo jumbo to you. Who cares about the beauty of God, uh, when all you want to do is serve him.

Regarding, "more than that", please tell what is it? BTW, let me repeat, this discussion is not about me. Or you, for that matter.

Ghulam mohammed,
nice quotes especially from Rabia Basri. She was the blessed one who had seen the Light, and, referring to God, always used to say "My Beloved is always with me". Similarly Mansoor al Hallaj on seeing the Light declared "An al haq" (I'm the truth or I'm God) for which he was executed - on the insistence I believe of his own sufi master.

This is what Rumi says about "I'm God" (from wikipedia):"People imagine that it is a presumptive claim, whereas it is really a presumptive claim to say "I am the slave of God"; and "I am God" is an expression of great humility. The man who says "I am the slave of God" affirms two existences, his own and God's, but he that says "I am God" has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says "I am God," that is, "I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God's." This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement"

Thai,
please read my post again. I don't know how else I can explain it. My problem is with doctrinaire religion which comes with a package - the book, laws and rituals and a system of reward and punishment - and says follow this package and you'll go to heaven, if not to hell. Then it claims that its package is the only true, divine, authentic pacakage and all the rest is devil's work. What I'm saying is that is kind of religion is shallow - and maybe it promotes a good, righteous life - but does not help transform one's consciousness which can lead to direct realisation/experience of God. If a religion asks one to assume the existence of God, then in my view it is fundamentally flawed. The purpose of religion should be about finding God, not "assuming" him and then setting believers into a god-forsaken merry-go-round .

Zulfiqar,
yes you've understood me correctly, and thank you for elaborating. Just want to add, my concern is not just with the misinterpretation of religion or its narrow confines but that that it has outlived its utility. Religion had its meaning and purpose at the time of its origin but not anymore. A religion and its particular story is not eternal. Confining God to a book and its laws is to make a mockery of him. What a balsphemy :) !

Thai
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#68

Unread post by Thai » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:00 am

@ Ghulam Muhammed
I enjoyed reading your post---it added depth to the discussion.

@Humsafar, Al Zulfiqar......
If I understand correctly, there are 2 major points of concern, 1) that people are incapable of understanding the depth of wisdom in religions, 2) that religion has outlived its usefulness. Both of you have also touched on "law" and I would like to eleborate on that if I may......

1) Human beings have different levels of understanding.
I have many flaws in my character, one of them is impatience. (I am working on improving this flaw). Much of my impatience is towards those who are intellectually incompetant---and when you are a boss running a bussiness, I'm afraid you can get away with this flaw. However, I encountered an old couple whom I got to know. They were very nice people and they tried to the best of their abilities to be good Muslims. I helped them out with some personal problems. Over time, I observed that they repeated "mistakes" that got them into the same "mess" that I kept helping them out of. I was puzzled...how was it that they could not learn from their mistakes so they would not repeat them?. It was frustrating...had they been my employees, I would have fired them, had they been younger than me, I would have yelled at them and tried to bludgeon some sense into them, had they been relatives, I might have taken "control" so they would not find themselves in the same mess over and over----but they were none of those things. They were simply a very nice old couple whom I knew. I realized that I could either abandon them, or overcome my frustration and impatience and continue to be there for them. I decided not to abandon them and am glad for they helped me be a better person. The experience helped me see that God is Merciful and Compassionate and each and every life is useful. In my arrogance, I may have thought only highly intelligent people have anything of value to contribute to the world----but God proved me wrong! All of us have value, we are teachers of one another and our life here on earth, no matter how insignificant it may seem, has an impact.
2) Religion has outlived its usefulness.
To the old couple (I mentioned above) religion/Islam provided "roots" and a sense of direction. They may not have understood much of its depth of wisdom, but they, nevertheless, lived a good life to the best of their ability and their life was not less valuable or worthy because of it.
It is not always wise to make sweeping statements because then we might fall into arrogance and forget the value of other lives/people who have different needs/capabilities than us.

Thai
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#69

Unread post by Thai » Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:21 am

sorry, I was inturrupted......lost my train of thought, so let me start fresh......

Religion and its relevance
I have tried to understand Christianity....and no matter how creatively a Christian tries to explain their doctrine, I have consistently failed to understand it . Yet, there are Christians who apparently understand it and find hope and comfort in their religion. I may find their religion unfathomable and intellectually unsatisfying---but then, what does that matter?---I am not a Christian---they are. It is upto them to decide what is relevant to them and me to decide what is relevant or not for me....
I find Islam very relevant. I find the Guidance of the Quran practical. workable and wholistic. In particular, what I like about Islam is its message of empowerment----human beings are not some insignificant pawns in some cosmic chess game. Our life is very relevant and purposeful and we can make of it what we CHOOSE....and there are many possibilities to choose from. We can choose to enjoy the material comforts life has to offer and relegate spirituality to a small corner of our lives or ignore it completely----we can choose to give up all comforts and responsibilities and choose to chase after some idealized spirituality----or we can look deeply at our wisdom teachings and choose to learn from them and perhaps strive to lead lives of balance, harmony and peace. We have this time between birth and death to find "a way"/path that will lead us to peace and harmony--we can find this path through trial and error---and since most of us are intelligent I am sure we will succeed, or we can pick up the Quran and follow its Guidance----and I am pretty certain which I would prefer....

"Law" and God.
I would like to touch on a concept of "Law" that I have been thinking about recently.......
Please refer to Surah 91, v1-10 posted by feelgud

sorry ...have to break----but will be back

anajmi
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Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#70

Unread post by anajmi » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:31 am

Humsafar,
it has been variously described.
Variously described but without the possibility of it being shared by anyone. What would make sense is if this "sudden insight", this "self realization", this "divine revelation", this "act of grace" could be given a physical manifestation like a book explaining what these actually mean. Now that would make perfect sense.
The experience is intensely personal and indescribable
Unfortunately, an intensely personal and indescribable experience is just that. Indescribable. Who knows what the guy is feeling. It might be a seizure for all we know, as long as it remains indescribable. It needs to become describable like it became with the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
In this state God is nothing but pure absolute Love
I have no clue what that means. Do you? I don't want to call it mumbo jumbo but I want you to explain. If you say that it is indescribable, I would get your head examined. For eg. when I say that I love my parents, I don't just talk about it, which is what these sufis that you admire seem to be doing. First, I believe that they are my parents. Then, I try to make them happy. I try to do what makes them happy and avoid doing that which would make them sad. And I do this not because I expect them to give me something but because of that which they have already given me. I don't just claim to have achieved "self realization" and leave it at that. Similary, if you claim you love God, then do what he commands you to do. Don't do it for heaven. Just do it. But no, that is not the kind of God you want. You want a God that you can love, but one that you don't have to do anything for, except "love" him which means nothing more than mumbo jumbo.
Rabia Basri about hell and paradise
First, who is Rabia Basri? This might be a question for ghulam muhammad. Which religion did she believe in? Did she believe in Islam? How did she believe in Islam? Was it from the quran and the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (saw). If she believes in the quran then does she agree with what the quran says about heaven or hell?

Besides, Rabia Basri's quote about heaven and hell refers only to the believers. It does not include the disbelievers. And she doesn't say that there is no heaven or hell. She just wants the believers to believe without fear or greed. But we are talking about those that don't believe in God.
Regarding, "more than that", please tell what is it?
More that that is what you don't like about religion. Salah, Roza, Hajj, Zakat, Quran. These are the things that complete Islam. Without these things, you have nothing more than a seizure.

Now, coming to those that do not believe in religion but believe only in God. Do they believe that it was God that created the earth and the universe? Do they believe that humans were created by God? Do they believe that God has a plan for all humans? Do they believe that this God helps people who ask for his help? How do they ask for this God's help? What about those that do not get any help? Why won't this God help them? Unfortunately, these sufis won't be able to answer any of these questions. If they could, these answers would be noted down in a book from which others could benefit.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#71

Unread post by anajmi » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:03 pm

BTW, let me repeat, this discussion is not about me. Or you, for that matter.
This discussion is about those who believe and how they choose to believe. My contention is that the believers do not need advise on how to believe from disbelievers. Sufis are still ok. Disbelievers are not, as they do not have a clue even what the sufis are teaching.

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

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#72

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:28 pm

anajmi wrote:First, who is Rabia Basri? This might be a question for ghulam muhammad. Which religion did she believe in? Did she believe in Islam?
Bro anajmi,

Rabia Basri (r.a.) was a devout muslim which you too very well know but I think that due to your reservations with regard to sufi saints you do not have the regard for her as compared to those who seem to rigidly follow only the sunnah. You, like everyone else have a right to your thoughts and beliefs and hence I wouldnt like go into a debate with regard to the rightousness and superirority of sufi saints over the ulemas and vice versa. She undoubtedly offered regular salat and roza as her religion was Islam.

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

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#73

Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:35 pm

Humsafar wrote:The man who says "I am the slave of God" affirms two existences, his own and God's, but he that says "I am God" has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says "I am God," that is, "I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God's." This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement"
Based on the above, there is a beautiful urdu shairi :

"Pehle is hasti-e-faani ko mita,
phir dekh tujhko, tujhme,
kya kya nazar aata hai".

Al Zulfiqar
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#74

Unread post by Al Zulfiqar » Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:49 pm

bro. gm,

this is similar to what the buddhists and jains believe - the surrender of ego or 'ahamkar', what the urdu shayar calls hasti-e-faani. that the day that you learn to give up your ego, that day you will realise god.

anajmi
Posts: 13402
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#75

Unread post by anajmi » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:19 pm

Bro gm,

I have no problems with any sufi saints. These sufi saints were much better muslims than I will ever be. The problem I have is with people who will build a mazaar for these saints and then start worshipping them instead of learning from their life.

You said it yourself that Rabia Basra was a devout muslim and offered regular salah and roza. Why do you think it is necessary for a devout muslim to offer regular salaah and roza? Would you refer to anyone who doesn't pray any salah or offer a single roza as a devout muslim and a believer in Allah?

If Rabia Basri didn't offer any salaah or namaaz, do you think you would've been quoting her as a muslim saint?
the day that you learn to give up your ego, that day you will realise god.
I am not sure if that means anything. What does "giving up your ego" mean? Do I need to stop posting on this board to give up my ego? Do I have to not argue with anyone to give up my ego? Do I just keep my faith to myself and not try to share it with anyone or talk to anyone and leave everyone to their own selves, to be able to give up my ego? What the heck does it mean? And then what will happen? What is "realize god"? Give me an example.

Thai
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#76

Unread post by Thai » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:30 pm

(Previously posted by feelgud.....)
1By the sun and its rising brightness
2 and by the moon as it follows it,
3 and by the day as it reveals its glory
4 and by the night when it draws a veil over it,
5 by the sky and how He built it
6 and by the earth and how He spread it,
7 by the soul and how He formed it,
8 then inspired it to understand what was right and wrong for it.
9 He who purifies it will indeed be successful,
10 and he who corrupts it is sure to fail.[91:1-10]

This is an interesting verse----It starts with pointing out the rotation of the earth and how we observe it when the sun is followed by the moon as the earth rotates. Then it shows us the effect of the rotation, which is day followed by night. the next verses remind us that these creations of God work according to his "principles"/"law". These principles/law are observable or "seen". For example, if we take the principle/law of gravity--we can observe that if we were to drop an egg off a building, it would fall splat on the ground below. Likewise, we can conclude that if a human was subsituted for the egg, the body would end up pretty much like the egg. If your friend wanted to "test" this principle by jumping off a building---you would most likely point out the insanity of doing so by reminding him that he is going to end up like the egg!. This would not be a "threat"--- merely a warning of the consequences.
(Ofcourse, if we do not aknowledge that existence of the principle/law of gravity----there would be no point to this discussion---as it would be foolish to understand something that we believe does not exist!)
The next verses (7, 8) talk of what the Quran calls, the "unseen"----our soul. We cannot see our soul---but we can infer its existence with our reason and intelligence. (---- if we presume the soul/self does not exist---there need not be any further discussion of it) If there are natural laws governing the workings of the observable creation around us, there may well be a principle/law for the soul/self. When seen from this perspective, verses 9.10 seem to define the principle and warn of the effects.

Mysticism may be one way to understand the Divine, but not all of us are blessed with such ability nor would our circumstances permit such an arduous journey. For those of us who can only rely on intelligence to understand the Divine, looking at the underlying priciples or law might be a good starting point.....?

Thai
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#77

Unread post by Thai » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:33 pm

sorry about typo---it should read verses 7,8

Humsafar
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#78

Unread post by Humsafar » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:06 pm

anajmi,
The thing is, you cannot imagine religion without God and I cannot imagine God with religion. The other thing is that you're quick to ridicule my position as mumbo-jumbo - and in doing so you show that you have neither understood your religion nor your God.

Thai,
No, I'm not saying that "people are incapable of understanding the depth of wisdom in religions". What I'm saying is quite the opposite - that doctrinaire religions do not have the depth or wisdom or the tools to help us experience the deep spirituality of life, the unity of being.

Ghulam mohammed,
That was a nice shair, here's another one in similar vein:
Fana bagair baqa ka pata nahi milta
Mita do khud ko bhi to bhi khuda nahi milta

To all, I've nothing more to add to this discussion. As I understand it, the purpose of religion should be to help us "find" God. All else - doctrines, laws, rituals - is beside the point.

anajmi
Posts: 13402
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2001 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#79

Unread post by anajmi » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:22 pm

anajmi,
The thing is, you cannot imagine religion without God and I cannot imagine God with religion. The other thing is that you're quick to ridicule my position as mumbo-jumbo - and in doing so you show that you have neither understood your religion nor your God.
Humsafar,

It is easy to ridicule your take on God and religion because you believe in neither. If I were to advise a person on the medicine for his cancer, I deserve to be ridiculed and thrown out of the hospital.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#80

Unread post by anajmi » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:56 pm

As I understand it, the purpose of religion should be to help us "find" God. All else - doctrines, laws, rituals - is beside the point.
Doctrines, laws and rituals are what help you "find" God. How else do you expect religion to help you find God? Give you a magic key to a magic door?

porus
Posts: 3594
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2001 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#81

Unread post by porus » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:51 pm

This question is better re-framed "What is the purpose of your life?".

I would reject any answer which does not involve 'service to life' . Here 'life' is to be defined as broadly as possible to include all living matter as long as it does not harm other living matter.

A religion may help to clarify your purpose but if the latter becomes 'observation of rituals' or 'wanting others to adopt your religious view' or 'convincing others that yours is the only true religion', then you need to ask if that will facilitate 'service to life'.

You will find that the ultimate purpose renders religion not particularly significant. Hindus, Muslims. Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, atheists all can serve life without having to adopt other people's religion. Religions are simply different lenses. One is no better than another. They have no purpose except to perpetuate themselves.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#82

Unread post by anajmi » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:00 pm

Service to life shouldn't just include service to life here on earth as it is going to end doesn't matter how much you serve it. Service to life needs to include the life in the hereafter as well. And to do that, I need to do what you don't want me to do. Try to convince you to adopt my religious view and convince you that mine is the only true religion. That will facilitate the purpose of my life which to service life in the here and in the hereafter.

porus
Posts: 3594
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2001 5:01 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#83

Unread post by porus » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:14 pm

If you serve life in the 'herenow', life in the 'hereafter' will take care of itself.

'Hereafter' is a religious myth. Myths may help you personally but keeping them alive can never be a purpose of life which is service to life. And life can be served without the need for any myth.

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#84

Unread post by anajmi » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:01 pm

Hereafter is a religious myth to you. For me it is a reality. And I am bound to act by what is real for me. "And life can be served without the need for any myth." would apply only to someone who believes that what they believe in is a myth. But then, they wouldn't actually be believing in it now would they? Hence your sentence tends towards being an oxymoron.

Human
Posts: 382
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#85

Unread post by Human » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:31 pm

anajmi wrote:
As I understand it, the purpose of religion should be to help us "find" God. All else - doctrines, laws, rituals - is beside the point.
Doctrines, laws and rituals are what help you "find" God. How else do you expect religion to help you find God? Give you a magic key to a magic door?
anajmi, then what about people who are spiritual but not religious. They believe in the existence of a supreme being: GOD, but do not believe that they have to follow a specific way to get to him. Be it namaaz and quraan or be it prayers and bible. If they have a good soul and do good things in life and refrain from all the bad stuff then do they still need a religion? You can't tell me that a person needs to be following religion to refrain from the bad stuff and stay on the path of good.

I personally agree with what porus said about the life 'hereafter' being a religious myth and I also believe that a person like Bin Laden who would pray his namaaz regularly but if there is a hereafter, he won't get any preferential treatment from God.

Aarif
Posts: 1426
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#86

Unread post by Aarif » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:41 pm

Thai,

Again good posts.. Enjoyed reading them and learnt a lot from them. Thank you..

I still have some doubts that I would like to put forward. When I say that there is imbalance, I mean to signify the fact that there is more bad than good around us. We have failed to move in the right direction and hence have completely lost our way. The basic principles of humanity, good-will, peace etc. have been completely violated. The human race has chosen the path of destruction by allowing their weaknesses to take control of their senses. So when we say that we are civilized and have a better understanding of life now than ever before, it sounds quite unconvincing. We have gained a lot of knowledge about ourselves and the universe around us in scientific terms. But are we using this knowledge for the right purpose? The people who have knowledge want to use it mostly for monetoray gains. There are millions dying of desease, poverty and hunger all over the world more than ever before. I feel that the world is literally in utter chaos. There is no logical justification that we can give for the current state of the world... It sounds ironic but the more we progress the more we go away from humanity, peace and harmony...

anajmi
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#87

Unread post by anajmi » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:58 pm

They believe in the existence of a supreme being: GOD, but do not believe that they have to follow a specific way to get to him.
Human,

Then I will ask these people the same questions that I asked Humsafar. Here they are
Now, coming to those that do not believe in religion but believe only in God. Do they believe that it was God that created the earth and the universe? Do they believe that humans were created by God? Do they believe that God has a plan for all humans? Do they believe that this God helps people who ask for his help? How do they ask for this God's help? What about those that do not get any help? Why won't this God help them? Unfortunately, these sufis won't be able to answer any of these questions. If they could, these answers would be noted down in a book from which others could benefit.
You don't believe that every person has his or her own God do you?
I personally agree with what porus said about the life 'hereafter' being a religious myth
And that is fine. I just don't agree with it.

Human
Posts: 382
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:24 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#88

Unread post by Human » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:49 pm

Now, coming to those that do not believe in religion but believe only in God. Do they believe that it was God that created the earth and the universe? Do they believe that humans were created by God? Do they believe that God has a plan for all humans? Do they believe that this God helps people who ask for his help? How do they ask for this God's help? What about those that do not get any help? Why won't this God help them? Unfortunately, these sufis won't be able to answer any of these questions. If they could, these answers would be noted down in a book from which others could benefit.
anajmi, they believe in humanity or as better quoted above by Aarif as principles of humanity, good-will, peace and harmony. They believe in good. The questions you asked, do not make sense for them as they don't care about those. All they care is serving others and spreading good.

In a similar fashion, they could ask someone who follows religion like yourself, the following quesitons. Do you believe your religion is the ultimate truth? Do you believe your religion is the only one that leads to God? Why do you think so? Why are there so many religions in the world if there's only one leading to the ultimate truth? If your religion says God has plans for all humans then why do humans have free will to decide what they do? Why are there poor and suffering in the religion you follow? Why are there so many criminals committing crimes in the name of religion? If religion shows such a path, why follow religion?

Human
Posts: 382
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:24 am

Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#89

Unread post by Human » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:01 pm

On another note, during my visit to South Africa, I met a guy from Algeria. He had come to South Africa as a refugee. I could tell he was a very good and hard working person even in a very short time I talked with him. I did not know his religion yet but anyways he guessed mine from my name. And he asked me this "You seem like a nice person, can I ask you one question." I said surely, go ahead. He said, "Why do muslims cause problems all around the world?". He said he had to run from his village because of constant problems between the Algerian muslims and other Algerian people. Not only that, he gave example of so many other places in the world. He said muslims are always involved. Either they are are responsible for the trouble or in some cases they are the victims but however they are always involved with trouble. He asked me "WHY?" and I did not have an answer for him at that time. I just told him jokingly "Maybe its just an unlucky co-incedence".

Human
Posts: 382
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Re: What is the purpose of religion?

#90

Unread post by Human » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:03 pm

^
Any thoughts about the above?