"0 followers of the Book! Indeed Our apostle has come to you making clear to you muck of what you concealed of the Book and forgiving muck; indeed, there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah. With it Allah guides him who seeks His good pleasure into the ways of peace wad brings diem out of utter darkness into light by His will wad guides them to the right path. Holy' Qur'an (5:15-18)
Religion represents the work of deliverance, the message of salvation, and the torch of light, guidance and peace. It is evidence of Allah's kindness, Exalted be He, and the result of His mercy to man, as He willed that man be His viceroy on earth.
Allah has bestowed on him powers and capabilities and has thus made him superior to all His creation. So, man, indeed is in need of the message of religion, and the guidance of Allah, Who paved for mankind the path to light and peace, and prepared for him the means of living in happiness, prosperity and brotherhood.
Man, this tormented and unhappy creature, who suffers at the hands of modern forms of ignorance, injustice and oppression, and who endures the pains of hunger and of deprivation in its hell, and who wallows in the shadow of its darkness, in the filth of vice and squalor lives in doubt and in loss.
Man has descended to the pits of meanness which has deprived him of his freedom and will, taken away from him his security and dignity, and robbed him of the very means of living and the comforts of life. All this because he has revolted against Allah's will, and refused to respond to the message of Heaven. Instead he has thrown himself into the labyrinth of straying, wrong-doing and unhappiness. As a consequence of rejecting the leadership of faith, he has lost the right path and extinguished the torch of light by pursuing dark and unknown ways of life. Allah has truthfully said:
"And Allah sets forth a parable: a town safe and secure to which its means of subsistence come in abundance from every quarter; but it became ungrateful for Allah's favors, therefore, Allah made it to taste the utmost degree of hunger and fear because of what they wrought. Holy Qur'an (16:112)
But, does contemporary man comprehend this parable? Is he going to tear off the shrouds of hunger, disbelief and fear? Is he returning to the path of the Most High, Allah, so that his heart may be filled with the light of true guidance, (Allah's guidance) and be infused with piety, to flood the earth with peace, happiness and love, so that the word of Allah may come true in respect to man.
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"... eat of the sustenance of your lord and give thanks to Hun; a good land and a Forgiving Lord". Holy Qur'an (34:15)
Al-Balagh Foundation beseeches Allah, the Exalted to extend His assistance to man so that he can live under the shade of His mercy, and sincerely worship Him alone. We implore Him with the prayer of Christ (a.s.)1, recorded in the Qur'an: "If You punish them, surely they are Your slaves; and if You forgive them (surely they are Your slaves) You are the Mighty, the Wise. Holy Our'an (5:118)
MAN'S NEED FOR RELIGION
1. The Natural Proof
2. The Scientific Proof
3. The Historical Proof
4. The Objective Proof
Ever since the history of mankind began, man has been practicing different forms of worship and piety.
There was no nation on the earth unattached to a religion and performing its rites in one way or another. This is because piety is an instinct, a natural feeling deeply rooted in man's being. It can neither be hushed, nor muted in an individual's conscience, nor can the human conscience be prevented from sensing it, or going towards it.
Yet, the instincts of piety and worship have not always been guided y soundness and purity; rather they, in most instances, have been deviated expressions and abnormal practices of worship; religion, in its pure state, is that which is represented by monotheism, the path announced by the prophets and heralded by the apostles, for maintaining the correct mode of worship and to lead the caravan of mankind towards the shores of goodness and peace.
So, the observer of the history of religious myth, and of devious worship in man's life, finds a variety of religious expressions. He finds heliolatry, asrolatry, idolatry, zoolatry, pyrolatry, worship of monarchs, etc.
Analyzing the rise of these deviated religions, and studying the elements which conspired in developing them, one finds them all connected to a superstitious interpretation of the universe and the afterlife. This in turn discloses the lowness of those peoples' knowledge and their ability to fabricate fancy fables that stemmed from their own ignorance and superstition. These rites also illustrate
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the social customs and the imaginative traditions of those peoples, and their stifled mental and moral capabilities.
History is full of such religions, rituals and superstitious rites. Taken as a whole they reveal man's ignorance and the lowness of his conscience and feelings in such a way as to cause both astonishment and disgust. Some used to slay their sons in sacrifice to their imagined gods, presenting them as offerings at the alter of a false sacredness. They supplicated and requested the idols' grace and the blessings of those stony, silent structures.
History tells us of many ignorant nations, peoples and civilizations such as the Babylonians, the Sumerians, the Chaldeans, the Pharaohs, the Greeks. the Assyrians, the Persians, the Romans, and the Arabs (of Jahiliyah), History also stresses that all those exterminated nations had some sort of worship, religion, and rites which they used to practice, but they were unnatural, superstitious and deviated forms.
The Glorious Qur'an notes abundantly the dark and tragic side of the lives of the perished primitive ignorant groups. It draws our attention to the missions of the messengers and prophets, the inviters to true worship and the saviors and reformers of humanity as a whole.
Considering these facts and other historical evidences, we realize that the existence of religion and worship in the course of man's history is clear proof that religion is not a passing social phenomenon, nor is it an imaginary compensation for his sufferings from the hardships of his painful life. Neither is it an expression of his failure in understanding the universe and life and in logically and scientifically explaining them; nor is it an opiate for the downtrodden and subjecting them to the injustice of oppressors and exploiters as Marx, the founder of collapsed Communism, asserted by saying that "Religion is the opium of the people.
All these assumptions and biased interpretations, which are being presented by the propagators of materialism and infidalism, with the purpose of falsifying the objectives of religion and destroying the mental and spiritual fundamentals on which it is based, are but futile and refutable allegations which are disproved by objective historical evidence.
Herein, we reiterate some of the numerous and most important realities that the mind has but to accept:
First: The Natural Proof
By this we mean man's instinctive inclination towards religion. This is an inborn proclivity (tendency) found in man since his existence on earth. It explains the genuine driving force and the inner compulsion present in man's constitution, pushing him towards worshipping a being greater than himself.
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He feels the mighty superintendence dominant over the whole of existence. He feels the need to be patronized, to appeal to something grand and holy, to whom man may expose his desire for worship. This exercise grows and changes man's internal being in an attempt to understand the existence of a truth that is the greatest truth.
This practice is accompanied by an anxious quest for this truth, which fills man's soul and attracts him to it, as he feels its richness and the possibility of its filling up all the dimensions of the vacancy, contrasted with his own feelings of deficiency, He feels its superiority over the whole world, whose boundaries he is inclined to cross and beyond which he wants to eternalize his being.
This world is unable to respond to the absolute expansion in his soul, nor cant be a substitute for that truth which is sought by him. Thus, he always tends to proceed ahead to the truth which is much more eminent than this tangible world, comprehending that this truth has all the ability to satisfy his innate longing which presses upon both his conscience and sub-conscience.
This innate feeling is a true objective one, because it is a natural instinctive tendency. Its existence in man is supported by three objective facts. They are:
a. Thinking of the abstract absolute of time and place, as well as of the attributes of the tangible world.
b. The inclination to sanctify the Perfect Absolute, seeking to come under His greatness and to feel small in His presence.
c. Feeling imperfect while imagining the idea of perfection, searching for it and wanting to march in its direction.
All these feelings are accepted scientific facts proved by psychological studies, in the same way as the intuitive truths and the verbal utterances coined by man to refer to these essential, innate feelings are.
If we comprehend that being religious is a native force deeply rooted in man's self, we will also comprehend that man's devotional tendency is a fact, not legend or superstition. This is because man's natural genesis knows nothing of superstition, nor of legends.
It is in this respect, as it is in respect of his other instincts and tendencies born in him, such as the instincts driving him to knowledge, sex and food.
The mythical and legendary aspect of human life, expressed through different forms and peculiar rituals, appears only when man suffers from a state of loss and of deviation from the true Allah. In this condition man's imagination plays havoc and he draws a picture of religion and of god as was typical during the era of Jahiliyah (pre-Islamic Ignorance).
The Qur'an, confirming this fact, says: "They are Hanifs (tend) to Allah, not polytheists , which Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s.) explained, saying that. "This tendency' is part of the nature of which man has been created. Allah's creation never changes. He has made them to instinctively know Him.
Imam Ali (a.s.), in a speech explaining piety and the inborn inclination to worship Allah, explicitly says:
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"Allah sent prophets - after Adam - with revelations to guide mankind, when many people broke their given promises to Allah and went against their word, forgot their duties and divine rights and began accepting others as their goods and worshipping them.
Satan had instigated them to give up the ways of Allah and forsake His worship. Allah sent His apostles successively one after another, so that they may remind the human beings of the duties which nature has cast upon them as part of the plan of their existence and in redemption of the pledges made by their souls in the spiritual world on the day of creation.
These prophets were to draw the attention of humanity towards the blessings and bounties bestowed by Him, to convey His message to them, to teach them to intelligently and wisely use the treasures hidden in their intellect . He further adds: "The best thing that the beseechers plead with Allah the Exalted as faith in Him and His Messenger and fighting (the Polytheists) for His sake, as this is the highest degree of Islam, and the word of unity which is in the innate nature.
Second: The Scientific Proof
By this we mean the testimony of the sciences and knowledge, presented through their programs, ways of thinking, conclusions, and the results of their researches, which have discovered the composition of matter and the nature of life, and which interpreted the genesis of the universe and existence. All of these are reason enough to believe in a Creator, Innovator, Organizer, and Manager of this universe, and to reject the idea of things happening at random, haphazardly and by mechanical evolution. These concepts of things happening at random are the results of the preachings of the apostates and materialists, in the adolescent period of science, as a theory explaining existence and life.
This is not, however, the topic of our case for inference and argument. We leave that to our coming studies concerning belief and faith.
Third: The Historical Proof
This can be discerned in the long history of religion and messages; in the numerous prophets and messengers, ever since the dawn of humanity till this day. Mankind, even during the darkest periods of ignorance and blindness, and with every era and generation, has beheld some guiding prophet, a preaching messenger, and a changing message, as an expression of Allah's grace, and His beneficency to His servants.
This successive coming of the prophets, spread over a long time, generation after generation, alongside man's progress, and parallel to his historical existence, is an explicit proof of the truthfulness of the prophets' mission and the soundness of their preachings. Otherwise, there would not have been such an enormous number of prophets during different historical stages, all of them proclaiming a similar truth and forwarding the same principles. It is incredible that so great a number of men,
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in diverse ages, nations and places, should falsely claim to be prophets, and yet they should all be identical in their message. Were the preachings of those prophets false and groundless, contradictions and differences would have been quite obvious in them. Every message would have borne its special specifications, contradicting those of the other,
and the objectives of those prophets and their concepts of Allah, religion and the hereafter would have also been contradictory. Actually, it is the contrary which we see. We discern a unity of call in the messages of all those prophets; the call to believe in the Oneness of Allah, to have faith, to believe in the other world, to be interested in reforming mankind and in correcting its conduct and the order of its life. This confirms the unity of the source, Allah, and the unity of the call and goal.
Fourth: The Objective Proof
This proof can be inducted by scrutinizing the message of religion and monotheism, and the final code of divine laws (the Islamic laws). By induction and studying the Islamic laws individually, in detail and aims, one can recognize the truth of the divine message, and discover its humanistic and reformative side, its keen interests in the welfare of man and in delivering him, regardless of colour, social position, time and place.
Then, one would realize the falsity of the accusations attributed to religion, as a consequence of explaining it vis.a.vis the ignorance of the materialist interpretation, some aspects of which we related earlier. We know religion to be a message of deliverance, a call to salvation and luminous sign on the dark road. Its purpose is to save mankind, to break the bonds of slavery and open the channels of light and a happy life before a straying humanity.
"Those who follow the Apostle-Prophet the Ummi, (one who neither reads not writes), whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them; so (as for) those who believe in him wad honor him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are the successful". Holy Qur'an (1:157)
"But the chiefs of those who disbelieved from among his people said:
We do not consider you but a mortal like ourselves, and we do not see any have followed you but Ike most abject among us, at first thought; wad we do not see in you any excellence over us; nay, we deem you liars. He said: 0 my people! tell me if I have with me clear proof from my Lord, and He has granted me mercy from Himself and it has been made obscure to you; shall we compel you to (accept) it while you are averse from it? And; 0 my people! I ask you not for wealth in return for it; my reward is only with Allah and I am not going to drive
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away those who believe; surely they shall meet their Lord, but! consider you a people who are ignorant: And, 0 my people! Who will help me against Allah if I drive them away? Will you not then mind? And l do not say to you that I have the treasures of Allah; and I do not know the unseen, nor do I say I am an angel; nor do I say about those whom your eyes scorn (that) Allah will never grant them (any) good - Allah knows best what is in their souls - for then mod surely I should be of the unjust. "
Holy Our'an (11:27-al)
"And do not drive away those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, they desire only His favour; neither are you answerable for any reckoning of theirs, nor are they answerable for any reckoning of yours, so that you should drive them away and thus be of the unjust. " Holy Qur'an (8:52)
Thus, the Glorious Qur'an presents verses speaking of the aims of religion, of its role in man's life, of its attitude towards the poor and the deprived who are the followers of the prophets, and the first to respond to the call of Faith, the call of rescue, liberation and delivery. It also clarifies the attitude of the proud, arrogant and influential against the weak, and the calls of the prophets and their objectives.
It likewise registers the prophets' reactions towards the proud whose thoughts are filled with conceit and haughtiness. In this way the Qur'an proves to us that religion supports the weak and the deprived, and is the power that strikes justly and sincerely at the greed and :he pride of the criminal despots, so that we may realize that religion is not a means of persecuting the poor, nor is it the peoples' opium, a passing phenomenon in man's life, or a social activity, like other costumes and traditions which appear for a short span or specific period, then disappear altogether without a trace. Nor is it an illusion used by man to convince himself or another world that compensates for his failure in this present one.
Religion is a law inseparable from man's nature just as the laws of physics and life are inseparable from matter and living beings. This is because the Creator of the world has given man the longing for his Creator and directed man towards Him. "Then set your face upright for religion in the right state - the natural disposition…" Holy Qur'an (30:30)
Yet, this natural or inborn disposition, as such, is subject - through ignorance and obstinacy - to deviation, impurity, and diversion from the path of true religion, as is the case with many of man's instincts and inclinations which deviate from their natural orbit, causing man, to follow diverse types of harmful and perverted customs. Hence the coming of apostles and religions to set right such deviations, restore man's natural inclination to Allah, the Exalted, and satisfy the natural instinct in man for truthful worship upon which rests mankind's happiness. This natural inclination is, actually, the starting point for receiving the principles of religion and adhering to them.
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Once again we repeat here that this natural disposition in man cannot be looked upon as a legendary or mythical idea, since legends and myths are the offspring of an invalid imagination and illusion that subvert man's thinking. Man's native inclinations are a true case, met in the world of reality by an actual existence to which they turn, and which is the source of its satisfaction. Thus, the existence of Allah and worshipping Him becomes an outstanding fact, a counterpart of which, inside man, is the deep tendency to worship and the natural direction towards this Great Originator.
Superstition and myth originate when man is ignorant of his actual destination, and his mind is void of any clear vision. The Glorious Our'an calls such deviation of beliefs as.
"...they are gone away from us, nay, we used not to call upon wtytizing before…" Holy Qur'an (40:74)
"Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his Allah, and Allah has made him err having knowledge... " Holy Qur'an (45:23)
"And when Abraham said: My Load! make this city secure, and save me and my sons from worshiping idols: My Lord! Surely they have led many of mankind astray; then whoever follows me, he is surely of me; and whoever disobeys me, You surely are Forgiving, Merciful " Holy Our'an (14:35-36)
Thus, the Glorious Qur'an considers the abnormal and superstitious expression of man's ignorant inclination as erroneous and straying, since it is imaginary, and unreal, and a wandering expression that would not realize man's objective. Hence the saying of the Our'an: "...nay, we used not to call upon anything before... "