New Age Islam
Thu Oct 06 2022, 08:18 AM

Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam ( 14 Jun 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Is Religion Itself a Problem?


By Nastik Durrani, New Age Islam

June 15, 2013

Thanks to the revolution in the Arab countries, the political Islamic stream came out of its cave and joined the practical field. It succeeded in reaching the seat of power under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. But taking note of the behaviour of this political Islamic stream, the question arises: can this stream harmonise with the needs of the modern way of life?

The Islamists during their political battle did not hesitate to use immoral and sometimes even criminal resources such as violence, murder, falsehood, Takfir and then tried their level best to justify those crimes with the help of religious slogans and writings. Because of such immoral and criminal behaviour, some people have raised the question: Does the problem lie in religion as it is the source of their teachings? Some analysts had the apprehension that the direct domination of political Islam on the people in the name of religion will result in atheism in reaction and thus people will reject both the sword and the swordsman.

In a debate on Facebook, most of the participants had the view that the worst thing humanity has discovered in its course of history was religion and that humanity cannot root out the horrible crimes committed in the name of religion without rooting out religion because it is the remains of the dark ages. However, some others had the view that the problem did not lie in religion but in those who want to capture power and resources in the name of religion. They can also be called the traders of religion.

If we put bias aside and take a moderate approach, in my view, the worst discovery of humanity is not possibly religion because it has had some good effects on the human life but the worst thing is Takfir (declaring others infidels) which was invented by the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton. He proselytised people to worship only Aton and this way killed the flexible pantheism of the Egyptian religion Amen. This is the poison that was later transfused in the three Abrahamic religions. On the one hand, the so-called flag bearers of religion used Takfir for their own protection and to increase the number of the believers, and on the other, it was used to crush modernism in the religious thought and Ijtihad.

Religion meets the basic intellectual requirements of a large number of people. It provides comfortable and ready answers to the big questions relating to man’s philosophical questions like that on existence. It saves man from mortality and bestows on them an eternal life. However, on the other hand, there is no denying the fact that religions do not unite people but are the key reason for the differences among them. Religion divides them into groups and sects and pushes them into a perpetual war. History is witness to the fact that humanity has been in confrontation within itself for four basic things – wealth, power, sex and religion. Since the first three things are interrelated and divisible, the differences in the human society succeeded in dividing them into groups and sects and decide the matter. But since religion revolves round a constant which is indivisible, this war goes on and on and humanity has to sacrifice both its blood and progress.

Moreover, though these religions succeeded to draw people closer with the tools of compassion and salvation which hardly lacks in any religion, these virtues cannot stop people from committing horrible crimes. The advocates of religion always justify such crimes through their religious writings and interpretations. Not only that, sometimes, such crimes even assume the status of worship which takes man closer to God. If we take Islam into consideration, the Islamic literature is replete with such interpretations. Discussing religion, John Elia says:

“Who are they who kill each other and why these killers always rise from the tribe of religion? We see that people of reason and philosophy never kill each other. The groups of Plato and Democrats never fought each other. The school of thought of Farabi never attacked thinkers of the monasteries of Sheikh Shahab. No crowd came out of the door of the synagogue of Athens that struck off the necks of people and set cities on fire. Why does the fire of bloodshed and mischief rage only among the religious groups?”

Therefore, for the time being religion will remain among us with its (less useful) positive and (dangerous) negative aspects because it meets those human needs that will last until the light of knowledge pervades the world. The solution to the problem of religion lies in a system that will highlight its positive aspects and will put limitations on its negative aspects; a system that may open all the doors to God for the true believers and prevent the traders of religion from exploiting it; a system that may guarantee the security of both this world and hereafter and will not force us to choose any one from the two. The summary of the system is one word whose light has illuminated the whole universe except of course a few dark islands. And the word is: secularism.