|Mind's Need For Religion|
It is not possible to separate man's way of thinking from his way of living and his dealing in life. Man is a wise and understanding being who thinks for himself, wants to comprehend his surroundings and tries to know the beginning and the end of everything, in order to be able to understand the mysteries of the world and the beings around him. He tries to discover: How did this world begin?
Where is it going to?
Why is he here in this life?
What is the goal of his existence?
Where will he end to?
What does life itself mean?
How should he conduct his life?
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Man has always been looking for convincing answers to these questions. The answer to them either leads him to happiness and welfare, or wretchedness and misfortune.
The answers, though short in their form and brief in their expression, are yet great in their meanings, important in their reality and deep in their effects.
It is these answers which define how man should live, behave, understand life and estimate the importance of his own existence. By providing correct answers one may resolve an important crisis of thought- the crisis from which man has long been suffering, unable to find correct answers he has been tormented by anxiety and uncertainty and forced to wander through as abyss of erring.
Therefore, the right answers form the basic principles of the philosophy of life, and soundly evaluate life and man's existence. The correct answers to these questions have always been confined to two contradictory theories, both in their truth and in the resulting constructions that are based upon them.
The two answers are: The first given through religion, lighting the path of righteousness and faith with rational proof; the second given by error and denial, aiming at envoking mist to obliterate clear visibility, to envelope man's conscience and prevent is from directing itself towards Allah, the Beginning and the End of existence.
Religion's answer offers, through its call and message, and interpretation of the universe and life, and an explanation of man's existence, and of his links with them; while the other answer bases its explanation in retort to the idea of faith, denying its reasoning and explanation. Religion bases its interpretation and viewpoint on believing that this universe, life and man have a Creator, a Lord, a God head; and that man's existence on this earth is neither a meaningless and aimless one, nor is it random happening. Life and man have their goals and values exceeding the time span of man's existence on the earth's surface.
He has a supreme objective to pursue, embodying it through his attitudes, his deeds and his general activities in a world that goes beyond perception and the time spent in this would. It is the other eternal world and the eternal extension of the absolute:
"Whoever disbelieves, he shall be responsible for his disbelief, and whoever does good, they prepare (good) for their own souls." Holy Our'an (30:44)
"And all have ranks according to what they do... " Holy Qur'an (6:132)
In this way, religion presents to man a correct explanation of his existence, and gives him a lasting vision that plucks out the roots of his doubt, mental anxiety and fear of perishing, losing, and uselessness in this life.
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Thus, by this explanation, religion opens to man the door to the expanses of life. He, then organizes his life according to a perfect and unified ideological basis, taking him to results and objectives in life free of disorder, contradiction and objectives in life free of disorder, contradiction and disappointment. It offers him,
besides other things, a sound ideological program, perfect in its order and movement, leading him to understand life and to adhere to a defined and explicit conduct.
The believer believes in the existence of a Just, All-Knowing, All-Powerful and Wise Creator. He further believes in the Day of Judgement and in the responsibility rested upon him for all of his deeds, and he expects rewards on the Day of judgement for his good deeds in this world. Therefore, he behaves according to this belief, and on this basis he forms every detail of his life, such as his ideas, attitudes, feelings and relations, formulating them within this unified ideological frame.
What a wonderful expression is used by the Qur'an in reference to this fact, describing the faithful elite who recognize the value of life and know the meaning of existence. The Qur'an says: "…and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou have not created this an vain! Glory be to You; save us then from the chastisement of the fire. " Holy Our'an (3:191)
As to the answer of the second group, it is the viewpoint expressed by the disbelievers. They view this world and this life only from inside, disregarding all ties and connections with the invisible world and the Creator, having built their opinion on a faithless interpretation denying the existence of the Creator, the Innovator; they have sentenced mankind to lasting annihilation and transformation into dust, mixing with the elements of the earth, (lost in every nook and cranny) without return or resurrection.
In this way the living feelings of man are pushed down to lowest pitch of death, despair and eternal destruction. It is a disaster that befalls the optimistic and hopeful feelings, and man becomes a prey of despair, goes astray, and submits to decay and decline. Life becomes an arena for conflict and a chance to partake of transient sensual pleasures and appetites, accompanied by a complete death of any feeling of happiness or knowledge of the meaning of life.
Life, to them, is but a period of futile misery, with no hope or expectation and since there would be no other world, no divine justice, no punishment, no reward, no responsibility, no retribution, and no immortality, man is reduced to the level of the plants of the earth and the worms of the ground. Thus, this interpretation has done away with all human values.
There is no doubt that man has never been subjected during his lifetime to a more dangerous catastrophe than the deluge of this devastating one which sentences him
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to live and die within this terrestrial prison, returning to the terrible soil of destruction. So, what would, then, life mean? What would be its value? Why does not man do whatever he wants, even if such practices meant misery for others and ended their lives with the most horrible types of torture? They say that man's life does not go beyond this limited secular period which is lost in the timelessness of the universe, which swallowed millions of generations and consumed the entire ancient humanity. How wonderfully the Qur'an illustrates this tragedy of the intellect which the rejecting and ignorant mind imagined, while trying to fabricate its argument and speak its ideology:
"Far, far is that which you are promised with. There LS naught but our life in this world; we die and we shall not be ,raised again". Holy Qur'an (23:38-37)
And how exact is the Qur'an in drawing the tragic picture to which this miserable, straying man reached: "...(as for) those who have lost their souls, they will not believe. " Holy Qur'an (8:12)
"Say: Shall We inform you of the greatest losers in (their) deeds? (They are) they whose labor is lost in this world's life and they think that they are well-versed in skill of the work of hands. These are they who disbelieve in the revelations of their Lord and the Day of Resurrection We assign no weight to then,. " Holy Our'an (18:103-105)
So, as the Qur'an describes them, it is these folk of disbelievers who have lost themselves, and lost their lives, turning life into a hell of misery, instead of making it a blessing and full of happiness, just because they deceive themselves with their distorted understanding of life and existence, and think that it does them good, while actually it takes them away from the path of Allah and His message. They think that they have discovered the right path and have put their feet on the right track. But it is this self-deceit to which the Qur'an refers by saying:
"The life of this world is made to seem fair to those who disbelieve, and they mock those who believe... " Holy Our'an (2: 212)
So, what other disaster to which man is subjected can be more devastating than losing oneself, leading to the loss of humanity, the loss which befalls man because of this mental wandering, ideological abnormality, and systematic deviation.
Therefore, no sane man doubts the necessity of abolishing this ideology and changing this materialistic way of comprehending life, and resorting to a realistic way of thinking, that is coordination with the cosmic reality of nature, thought and society. This way of thinking is not to be found except in mental reasoning, through mind's innate originality and exact theoretical activity. Mind is the actual thinker, the conscious power that moves according to the general universal existence, and
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co-ordinates with it, since it is a part of it - the highest example of its movement and order. This is why the Qur'an addresses the mind and argues with it as it is the only force in harmony with the logic of the Qur'an, and is able to comprehend its course and hear its call. It says:
"...thus do We make the signs distinct for a people who understand". Holy Our'an (30:28)
"...Most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect". Holy Qur'an (39:42)
When the mind is given freedom of thinking and contemplation, away from influences, deviations, and factors of misinterpretation, it will be able to discover the mental climate which assists its growth and to properly understand life. That climate is the way of the Qur'an and religion. Only under its light the mind can explain life and estimate it as required. In this way man would discover his inefficiency and his need to follow the path of religion and to be guided by it.
The Spitrtual Mission Of Religion
Man's relations to the realm of matter and nature, placing his interests exclusively on them, confining his consciousness and feelings to their narrow field, and moulding everyday behaviour and tendencies according to them, gradually change his life into a mechanical one, killing in him the perception of the Grand Truth, and taking from him the secret of happiness and the source of human perfection in this life.
Sensuality and believing only in the material world, cannot lift man above the bestial and material level of the senses. Neither they grant man a loftier image, nor help him to understand a truth higher than that towards all his aspirations and hopes are inclined.
He is not like the believer who believes in a supreme objective and aims to be higher than the level of the materialistic and instinctive desires. A believer, therefore, follows a spiritual conduct which sublimates through into his supreme humanity, passing through successive stages of perfection, continuing higher and higher, planting in him the love of good and perfection, because the continual growth towards Allah the Perfect, stamps in the believer's heart the love of perfection and the adhersion to the attributes of the Absolute Perfect.
He thus places world and whatever there is in it, on a lower level, as a secondary thing, leading a life, in which his foremost anxiety is to adhere to loftier ideals, only to meet his basic needs and not to tie his existence to it. He regards the life in this world as a transient stage, a stop for one to muster and mobilize one's strength to move on to a
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higher and more supreme world, the afterworld.
Such a believer lives in the highest degree of spiritual happiness, and the most supreme stage of faith, feeling assured of the results of his existence. He sees nothing in the unknown to be afraid of. He has no feeling of non-being or fear of pershing that may discomfort him in his life. He lives with a perpetual hope of progressively proceeding towards a world full of joy, under the shelter of happiness and spiritual quietness.
"And (as for) those who believe and do good work, and believe in what has been revealed to Muhammad, and it is the very truth from their Lord, He will remove their evil deeds from them and improve their condition". Holy Qur'an (47:2)
So, the spiritual man leads, through his faith, a happy life (and feels) being true to himself. He satisfies the need of the soul which is proceeding naturally towards eternity, and removes from it the apprehensions of perishability- a feeling which chases the infidel and the sceptic, knowingly or unknowingly, turning his life into an unbearable hell, a misery that sees no happiness at all:
"Surely those who act in opposition to Allah wad His Apostle shall be laid dawn prostrate as those before them... " Holy Our'an (58:5)
To have faith in Allah, and observe the valuable principles of religion, satisfy in man yet another spiritual need - the tendency in the human soul to sanctify and glorify.
Man, through his innate feelings and psychological construction, senses the existence of a Greater-Being, a complete perfection, before which he feels humble and tiny; so he starts to glorify it, yet he cannot understand it clearly. Hut as he inevitably has to express these innate feelings, he may either proceed in the right direction - that is, in the direction of worshipping the Creator,
through the guidance of the prophets and the sound teachings of religion, or in the wrong direction through worshipping man-made creatures and idols, or adoring the detested ego' which is the source of danger, inequity, aggression and greed, causing man to turn into a slave, worshipping and glorifying, not Allah, but tyrants, aspirations, desires, wealth, authority, pride, etc. Thus, humanity's tragedy is actualized in the ugliest forms of deviation, tyranny and abnormal practices. Allah has truthfully said: "You Only worship idols besides Allah and you create a lie... " Holy Ouran (29:17)
Anything worshipped other than Allah, is but a fictitious and illusive image. And any inclination not to Him is a twisting of the instinct of worship and sanctification.
Religion guides man to worship Allah, the Exalted Truth, over everything else in this world, such as desire, pleasure, riches, dignity and power. Man is, thus, directed to worship tie One to Whom are attributed all the qualities of perfection, such as justice, mercy, truthfulness, kindness, gentleness, knowledge, wisdom,
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power, etc.. The whole life, by this continual journeying towards Allah, coincides with the values of truthfulness, righteousness and perfection which are the attributes of Allah the Glorious, worshipped by man. .
There is still another spiritual fact which religion cultivates in man's conscience, implanting it deep inside him. It is the sense of responsibility and willingly undertaking it, affected by his conscious connection with Allah, the Exalted. The person who believes in Allah feels he is being watched by Him and fears Him. So, he acts knowing that Allah is with him, watches him, and nothing is concealed from Him, whether in the heavens or in the earth:
"And those who disbelieve say: The hour shall not come upon us. Say: Yea! My Lord, the Knower of the unseen, it shall certainly come upon you; not the wig/it of an atom becomes absent from Him, in the heavens or at the earth, and neither less than that nor greater, but (all) is at a clear book " Holy Qur'an (3.4:3)
"He knows the stealthy looks and that which the breasts conceal." Holy Qur'an (40:19)
This awareness and the true faith is sufficient to urge man to perform his duty and to undertake his human responsibility in every phase of life, legal; devotional or ethical. The Qur'an rears up this spirit of responsibility in its followers and believers, and stresses its cultivation and development through many texts and concepts:
"...these are the limits of Allah, (imposed by Allah) so do not exceed them, and whoever exceeds the limits of Allah these it is that are the wdust " Holy Qur'an (2:229)
So, a believer is keen on respecting the limits imposed by Allah and observing His instructions, and adheres to the law which organizes his life and directs his activities, contrary to the unbeliever who, having no faith in Allah and no fear of His observation, seizes every opportunity to transgress the limits of law and order, to cast away all responsibilities, and tread upon them whenever he finds a chance for disobedience and rebellion. This is because neither he accepts the sanctity of the law which organizes his life, nor does he believe in Divine punishment as long as be thinks he can slip away from the grasp of the authority and its just punishment.
This phenomenon - that of defying the will of truth and justice - constitutes one of the most grave problems from which the contemporary ignorant society is suffering, owing to the fact that the concepts of belief have disappeared from its horizon, and dutifulness has faded away from its conscience, and that its moral criteria is confused, it is natural that this collapsed inner constitution of the lost and materialistic man should affect his civil position and social relations; and it is natural, too, that the human rights and man's dignity should be lost under this state of ignorance.
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Before ending this study, it is necessary to summarize the positive results that can be brought about by a Muslim individual or society believing in Allah. These may be arranged as below:
1. Faith in Allah, His justice and Wisdom makes man realize his own value and the meaning of life. It helps man to understand that there is no injustice, uselessness and ruin in this life.
2. Faith in Allah frees man from the anxieties of being lost and perished, due to man's believing in the eternal existence in the other world.
3. Faith in Allah makes man's soul conscious, fells he respects life, and cares for society's laws and just values.
4. Faith in Allah frees man from the inclination of being submissive and yielding to other forms than Allah; and thus, grants him freedom and self-consciousness.
5. Faith in Allah raises in the believer the idea of Divine perfection and directs him towards it.
The Role of Religion in The Psychological and Moral Perfection
"To this then so on inviting, and go on steadfastly on the right way as you are commanded, and do not follow their low desires, and say: I believe in what Allah has revealed of the Book and I am commanded to do justice between you... " Holy Qur'an (42:15)
Realizing life's value depends on the presence of an important sensible reality, that is to feel happy. Happiness, as a supreme vital value, cannot be estimated through sensual practices, nor through the abundance of luxuries. So there are many nations, although materially developed, with numerous sensual pleasures exceeding their needs, yet, a high percentage of their nationals are found suffering from a most dangerous crisis of mental strain which often drives them to commit crimes and aggression just to ease themselves from their complexes.
Sometimes this tension reaches its highest, driving them to commit suicide, as is the case with the man of the modern materialistic civilization in the countries of Europe, America and elsewhere all over the world.
The secret behind all this is that this man is suffering from a crushing spiritual vacancy, and is in quest for an unknown truth which he cannot find. He continues trying, groping about, suffering, feelings self- tortured, despite drowning himself and his feelings in different pleasures, physical satisfaction and sensual expressions.
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Statistics speak every year of tens of thousands of suicidal and other criminal events. Streets, squares and parks are crowded with hundreds of thousands of aimless roamers and social dropouts running away from this torturing hell of life, individually and in groups, calling themselves different names. The one, who is plunged into the filth of this modern material culture, does his best to run away from the hell of this life and tries to escape it, even by resorting to a world of imagination and hallucination, enjoying oneself with shadowy happiness, and to burying the world of reality in the cemetery of illusion, through addiction to drugs and narcotics, such as morphine, heroin, alcohol etc.
By this, man loses the joy of life and buries the spirit of happiness in the formidable grave of materialism, and deprives himself of all the beautiful spiritual joys and pleasures. He deprives himself even of the pleasure of sound sleep in the lap of a comfortable slumber. Thus, millions of inhabitants of the major cities of the world, such as Washington, London and Paris, are unable to sleep even with the help of tranquillizers.
Tens of millions of human beings are now suffering from nervous sicknesses and diverse psychological complexes, and the number of the mental homes go parallel to the number of hospitals in most parts of the world, the means of physical satisfaction, though numerous and varied, cannot provide them with relief or mental calmness. On the contrary, as statistics confirm, man's psychological crisis and its result on society are getting more complex day after day as the ways of satisfying get more sophisticated, because the sensual expressions are actually void of any spiritual and moral values.
So, what is, then, happiness?
Where can it be found?
Because of the importance of an answer, and the importance of its role in man's life, diverse groups take part in the quest for it and in formulating it. They include philosophers, physicians, psychologists, moralists, socialists and others interested in finding an answer to this question. But all efforts deem to be fruitless, as they all fail to illustrate man's happiness on the earth.
Yet, the different studies, researches and statistics which have been compiled by those concerned with human and cultural studies, all confirm that happiness does not come through physical satisfaction, and that its existence is not a physical case. It is "a feeling of contentment and of being in harmony with man's good nature', or, in other words, it is "a mental feeling of contentment and security .
Hence the impossibility, by the material resources - such as food, drink, sex, wealth, pleasures, etc.- to realize this wonderful dream, or to capture this much wanted objective of the human soul. Such pleasures are unable to give man happiness, the feeling of contentment and joy. The human soul reacts to all these pleasures only temporarily with an obvious feeling of floating on the surface of man's life, while his inner feelings and his quest for the lost happiness revolve in a miserable vacancy,
wandering through a world of emptiness and horrible sorrow. Nothing but faith in Allah can provide him with happiness, and make him feel ( 17 )
confident, secure and pleased, coordinating his instinctive desires, practices and feeling contented. Imam Ja'far A1-Sadiq (a.s.) wonderfully illustrates the concept of happiness by saying: "Allah the Exalted through Has justice and equity, placed comfort and relief in faith and contentment, and placed anxiety and sorrow an doubt and discontentment . "
Uncertainty, sorrow and misery are psychological punishments self-imposed by man's conscience as a natural result of the spiritual vacuum of the soul and its being void of faith in Allah-the faith which brings tranquility, comfort and a feeling of content. Allah has truthfully said:
"Those who believe and whose hearts are set at rest by the remembrance of Allah; now surely by Allah's remembrance are the hearts set at rest "(As for) those who believe and do good, a good fowl state shall be theirs and a goodly return. " Holy Qur'an (13:28-29)
"And that when we heard the guidance, we believed in it, so whoever believes in his Lord, he should neither fear loss nor being overtaken (by disgrace) . " Holy Qur'an (12:13)
"And (as for) those who believe and do good, and believe in what has been revealed to Muhammad, and it is the very truth from their Lord. He will remove their evil deeds from them and improve their conditions . " Holy Qur'an (42:2)
Thus, believing in Allah, looking towards Him, having a heart full of His love, and feeling content with life and in harmony with His will, are the way to attain happiness, feeling self-satisfaction filled with love, sensing the beauty of life, and attaining a state of coordination between man's inner feelings and the objectives to which he proceeds in life.
Therefore, believing in Allah is a natural inborn need, without which man's journey towards the goal cannot be enriched, while he looks for happiness, security and contentment, and is anxious to end his spiritual torture, to uproot fear and anxiety and free himself from them. Fear, as the psychologists say - fear of the unknown, fear of danger, fear of being lost, fear of being deserted, fear of danger, or need and poverty, fear of emptiness, fear of death, etc. is the source of his misery. Allah had truthfully said:
"And his people disputed with him. He said: Do you dispute with me about Allah? And He has guided me indeed; and I do not fear in any way those that you set up with him, unless my Lord pleases; my Lord comprehends all things in His knowledge; will you not then remember? And how should I fear what you have set up (with Him), while you do not fear that you have set up with Allah that for which he has not sent down to you any authority; which then of the two
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parties is surer of security, if you know? Those who believe and do not mix up their faith with inequity, those are they who shall have security and they are those who are rightly guided. " Holy Qur'an (6:80-82)
How exact and meaningful is what Imam Ali (a.s.) says, by the way of expressing this fact and formulating it into a psychological principle of life: "He who fears has no 1ife. "
Thus, feeling secure, tranquil and stabled is the first reflection of faith on the soul; while happiness and being contented with life are the first fruit of those feelings which religion implants in the human soul, ripened by the fragrance of faith spread through one's conscience.
Consequently, Islam offers the basic factors for mankind's happiness. These are: 1. Enjoying security and social peace, as the Qur'an says:
"With it Allah guides him who seeks His good pleasure... " Holy Qur'an (5:16)
2. Developing man's good characteristics so as to coincide with the principles of perfection and proceed towards Allah, the source of perfection.
3. Coordinating the environment to the native and natural inclinations, through cherishing this natural system and being in harmony with it.
Therefore, man's attempts have proved successful to provide for himself security, safety, a feeling of contentment and submission, and bring about a spiritual and lawful harmony to create co-ordination between the picture of the inner self of the believer, and the outer form of life and society.
Islam, too, is keenly interested in keeping the natural system, in protecting it against deviation, and in guiding it along the straight path of Allah, so as to realize happiness for man, and to solve his spiritual and moral problems. To achieve this, it starts with purifying the inner self, cleansing it from its leaning towards evil and transgression, and developing the inclinations towards good and probity, such as love, sympathy, tenderness, justice, unselfishness, security, contentment, optimism, truthfulness, honesty, etc.., besides attempting to uproot the factors of the negative tendencies, such as hatred, selfishness, fear, despair, aggression, cowardice, deceit, etc..
All of these are to consolidate the movements of the psychological balance and to protect the safety of the mental and moral constitution, which is the starting point for the movement of behaviour, and of cultivating the pushing power. This sort of conduct and culture, which is personified in man, illustrates man's spiritual development and status. Every movement and every brick in the construction of
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man's culture and life, are but representatives of the contents of the soul, of its deep desires and established moral endowments. Truthfully Allah the Almighty says:
"Say: Every one acts according to his manner; but your Lord best bestows who is best guided in the path. " Holy Our'an (17:84)