ON CONCEPTION OF RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW

ON CONCEPTION OF RELIGION: AN OVERVIEW

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CONFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE

In today’s world, we are facing with various forms of corruption. Not only in terms of political corruption that is rampant everywhere but also corruption in knowledge. Corruption in our understanding of religion, of religious concepts and definitions which has led us to have wrong worldview.

WHAT IS A WORLDVIEW

world view /ˌwɜːld ˈvjuː/
• a way of thinking about the world (Cambridge)
• (a person’s) way of thinking about and understanding life, which depends on their beliefs and attitudes (Oxford)

Prof. Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas says, in Islam, worldview is not just the mind’s view of the physical world that constitutes man’s historical, social, and political involvement only but it is more than that. It means “the vision of reality and truth that appears before our mind’s eye revealing what existence is all about; for it is the world of existence in its totality that Islam is projecting.” When speaking about the “Islamic vision of reality and truth” it means a metaphysical survey of the visible as well as the invisible worlds including the perspective of life as a whole. The worldview of Islam encompasses both al-Dunya and al-Akhirah, in which the dunya- aspect must be related in a profound and inseparable way to the akhirah-aspect, and in which the akhirah-aspect has ultimate and the final significance.

“Worldview” will ultimately act as an underlying philosophical motive for one’s actions or behaviour in this world. A Muslim will behave differently from a non-Muslim because we do not have the same worldview.

What are the main components of the Worldview?.
They are many but basically these seven key terms or main concepts in shaping one’s worldview.
1. Religion
2. God
3. Man
4. Knowledge
5. Revelation
6. Ethics
7. World

HOW DID RELIGION DEVELOP? (WESTERN PERSPECTIVE)
Religion evolved or developed because man since the past few thousand years since the pre-history era wanted to have answers to these Big Questions of Human Condition that they are facing:
– What is this world?
– Who created it?
– Is this world  a reality or just an imagination, illusion like mirage?
– Why are we here? What is the purpose of our existence?
– Is there a god or gods?
– What happens after we die?
– So on…
So religion, according to Western scholars, especially sociologists and scientists evolved with human culture, from primitive polytheism such as paganism, animism to ethical monotheism such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

RELIGION (ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE)

Islam is not a religion that evolved or developed. Neither from the development of human cultures, beliefs, nor philosophical, historical factors or scientific discovery. Islam is a revealed religion from God. Allah makes a mention in the Holy Qur’an in several places:

المٓ (١) ذَٲلِكَ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبُ لَا رَيۡبَ‌ۛ فِيهِ‌ۛ هُدً۬ى لِّلۡمُتَّقِينَ (٢) ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱلۡغَيۡبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقۡنَـٰهُمۡ يُنفِقُونَ (٣) وَٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبۡلِكَ وَبِٱلۡأَخِرَةِ هُمۡ يُوقِنُونَ (٤)
Alif Lam Mim. (1) This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. (2) Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them. (3) And who belief in the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. (4) (Al-Baqarah 2:1-4)

Also “We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:
(Surah al-Qadr 97:1)

Why the revelation came? To guide mankind so that man knows why he was created, who his God is, where he is going after death. Allah will not punish until He sent a messenger to answer all the Big Questions on Human Conditions that man is facing. Allah says:

Meaning: Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.

(Surah al-Isra’ 17:15)

MAIN ISSUES
We have an issue with people who believe “Islam” is like any other religion in the world, philosophies, or cultural beliefs. Whereas Islam is NOT. Why?
– The difference between Islam and man-made religion.
– The difference between philosophy and religion.
– The difference between “religion” in the West and religion (al-Din) in Islam.
Not only non-Muslims but even Muslims have this wrong conception about Islam and many tend to follow the western conception of religion.

RELIGIONS IN THE WEST
In the West, there are at least three positions with regard to religion:
o Religion is revealed – now minority except among the priests, popes, etc.
o Religion is an absurdity but beneficial – so long useful, it’s fine (utilitarian of religion) such as:
–> Teachings of goodwill and the golden rule (do unto others)
–> Promoting ethics and good morals.
–> Inner strength and courage to do the right thing.
o Religion is absurd and should be rejected – the Opium of the People (Karl Marx)
o Couldn’t care less

DEFINITIONS OF RELIGION

“The word religion is derived from the Latin, religare, to bind, restrain or tie back, and was first recorded in English in the eleventh century. Religion is defined as a system of faith and worship or faithfulness or devotion to a principle. The agreement about the definition of religion has been lacking. The West generally views religion as a system of practices and belief towards a sacred or supreme being. Worship in the East has emphasized transcendence or liberation, as opposed to systematic belief. Many definitions of religion have been suggested, but one approach that avoids cultural bias and secular ideologies of human origin has suggested that religion include: doctrine (a creed of belief), myth (an historical sacred narrative), ethics (moral code of sacred origins), ritual (use of sacred objects/ceremony including the historical sacrifice), experience (devotional, mystical, experiential), and social institutions (educational, social gatherings, social service, pastoral care), all of which are inter-related.

Encyclopedia of Religion there are various definitions of religion, why? They do not have a benchmark on how to define what a religion really is. Philosophers define religion from his perspective, while sociologists from theirs and so on.

The definition of religion is a controversial and complicated subject in religious studies with scholars failing to agree on any one definition (Wikipedia)

Middle English (originally in the sense ‘life under monastic vows’): from Old French, or from Latin religio(n- ) ‘obligation, bond, reverence’, perhaps based on Latin religare ‘to bind’.

The term “religion” whatever its best definition, clearly refers to certain characteristics types of data (beliefs, practices, feelings, moods, attitude, etc). Its use presupposes criteria, and therefore some preliminary conception of what does and what does not come under the category. But it soon appears that there is no absolute gulf between “religion” and what, in someone respect or other, closely approximates it (e.g. art morality). Different people draw the line differently. (Ency of Religion, v10, 663)

E.B.Tylor: “religion is the belief in spiritual beings” (Ency of Religion, v10, 662)

“as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” (Oxford)

the belief in a god or gods, or a particular system of belief in a god or gods (Cambridge)

When they do not have a clear-cut definition of religion, who is the authority to speak about the concepts of their religions? Everyone. They turn to philosophers such as Rosseau, Hobes, Humes. The teachings of religions in the West sometimes fall under the discipline of philosophy, or arts, languages, so on and so forth. They are unsure to place “religion” under which discipline of knowledge.

Islam is a revealed religion. The name “Islam” is given by Allah SWT in the Holy Qur’an. What constitutes the pillars of Islam are also clearly mentioned. Other religions, name of the religions are not given by God but all man-made

True religion must be able to answer the Big Questions of Human Condition with certainty and not mere conjectures or speculations and that can only be answered by the Creator of this universe, who is God.

True religion must have a sacred text from God and the text can be a source of reference and knowledge about our religion. Islam has the sacred text which is called al-Qur’an and its authenticity, reliability that it is sourced from God was witnessed by 124,000 companions of the Prophet SAW during his lifetime. And this same al-Qur’an was passed to generations after generations since more than 1400 years ago without any change even a single word or letter.

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