About the Religion, God and the Reality Behind - Part - I
The Real Religion
It all started with an answer to a question about religion. One of our Hubbers, Austinstar asked- Here is your chance to answer - Which religion is the REAL religion?, and she explained her query with a specification of the major religions of the world. I replied the following way:
There are certain facts behind anything that proves its reality, so must be the case of religion. A true religion has to have the following features:
1) Comprehensive and rational concept of God. The relationship between God and humans must be a true reflection of the Creator & created being.
2) Should be universal in the sense it should have the essence of the religions of previous and present nations.
3) It should encompass the whole human lives and must guide and direct the human intellect.
4) The concepts of virtues and vices must be in balanced proportion.
5) It should clearly specify the role of men and women in view of their capacities.
6) It should prepare its followers to be the epitome of its teachings and strive hard for the promotion of virtues and eradication of evils.
7) It should clearly state its role in the construction of society, world peace, solution for human and social problems.
8) Should bind its followers with the followers of other religions with a clear description of mutual understanding and common programs.
9) Must elaborate clear concepts about world, wealth, health, peace, progress, salvation etc.
10) Should have concepts of paradise and hell and a rational approach towards them.
The Hubber’s Response
With the reply, comments started pouring in and that paved way for an eloquent conversation with Austinstar, Robert the Bruce, Rad Man and J McFarland, few more Hubber’s too participated with their inputs to the query posed. In view of my reply the above Hubbers have responded with their following contentions:
Austinstar - A "concept" of God is not proof of anything spiritual or metaphysical. It is just an "opinion".
Robert the Bruce - ….Islam claims Allah is the one true God. This does not coincide with Reason. Therefore it should be rejected.
Rad Man - Why is it reasonable that there needs to be one God? Why not 2 or 10?.....
Austinstar - Hindus have hundreds of gods, Jews have One God, Buddhists have no gods, Christianity has a triumvirate god, and Islam has One God. So which God is the "true" god? How does one figure it out?
Robert the Bruce - It's NOT reasonable to pick one of the many "gods" of the world religions and say that he/she/it is the only true God. It may provide comfort for you, but it is not reasonable.
JMcFarland - …Don't you find it more than a little convenient that the god you see as the "true" god is the one you are most comfortable with? What proof do you have, in light of all the other proposed gods that yours is, in fact, the true one?
Robert the Bruce - …..Why should I worry about worshiping and obeying a god for which there's no evidence of his existence? …..
Interesting isn’t it? Now let us move ahead. When we discuss religion, the concept of God occupies the central position, so is the case here, the views and queries mentioned above delves with different dimensions one could possibly think of God and I am trying to explain the same; the main contentions are:
- The concept of God
- What is True God?
- Why not many Gods?
- How reasonable is the acceptance of one God?
- Evidence of existence of God
Being a Muslim I will try to answer as per the teachings of Islam. Let me make it clear that my views are open for criticism and corrections, I am not here to be harsh on my views, it’s just a gesture to establish a sacred contact with my fellow brethren by means of a healthy discussion which, hopefully, opens the door to mutual understanding and co-operation.
The Concept of God
It’s a common experience that a person tends to think over the surroundings in which he lives. He is pretty aware of his personal and collective affairs and of the society. This is what you call a ‘reminiscent relation’, the stronger the relation, stronger going to be his attachment with these. Since he lives in the world and he is a part of the universe, he tends to think the same way over the beauty of the world and vastness of the universe. We all know that the humans have a ‘telling relations’ with near and far off objects of the universe.
Since there are innumerable teachings in all the religions about the existence of God, so man, in his own way, thinks of Him and tries to articulate Him according to his own perceptions. When it coincides with the teachings of the religion that he follows then he find himself in a satisfactory state else he simply rejects the faith in the existence of God. With this human nature in view, the concept of God has been explained in a way that clarifies a robust relationship and distinctly exemplifies its different shades. That He is the Creator and humans are the created being, He is the Giver of Bounties, humans are the beneficiaries, look at the following verses of the Quran:
- Mankind! Submit to your Lord Who created you and those who were before you; in this way only you may expect to save yourselves. It is He Who has made the earth a bed for you and the sky a canopy; and it is He Who sends down rain from above for the growth of every kind of food products for your sustenance. So, when you know this, you should not set up equals to rank with Allah (Ch 2: Verses 21-22)
- How is it that you adopt the attitude of disbelief towards Allah when the fact is that you were lifeless and He gave your life, and He will take away life from you and wilt again restore you to life: then you shall ultimately return to Him. (Ch2: Verse 28).
- It is He Who fashions you in the wombs as He wills..( Ch 3: 6)
- We assuredly established you in the earth and arranged for your livelihood in it. Little do you give thanks. (Ch7:10)
- Allah has made your houses a repose, and has provided you with the skins of the cattle for your habitation, which are light to handle both when you travel and when you camp; and out of their wool, and their fur and their hair He has given you furnishings and goods for use over a period of time (Ch16: 80).
- And We placed firm mountains on earth lest it should sway with them, and We made wide paths in them that they may find their way (Ch 21: 31)
- He it is Who sends down water for you from the sky out of which you drink out of which grow the plants on which you pasture your cattle. (Ch16: 10)
- And by virtue of which He causes crops and olives and date-palms and grapes and all kinds of fruit to grow for you. Surely in this there is a great sign for those who reflect. (Ch16: 11)
- He has subjected for you the night and the day and the sun and the moon for you, and the stars have also been made subservient by His command. Surely there are signs in this for those who use their reason. (Ch16: 12)
- And there also signs for those who take heed in the numerous things of various colors that He has created for you on earth. (Ch16: 13)
- And He it is Who has subjected the sea that you may eat fresh fish from it and brings forth ornaments from it that you can wear. And you see ships ploughing their course through it so that you may go forth seeking His bounty and be grateful to Him. (Ch16: 14)
- And He has placed firm mountains on the earth lest it should move away from you, and has made rivers and tracks that you may find your way. (Ch16: 15)
- And He has set other landmarks in the earth. And by the stars too do people find their way. (Ch16: 16)
- And of His Signs is your sleep by night and by day and your seeking of His bounty.Surely in this there are many Signs for those who pay heed. (Ch 30: 23)
- It is Allah Who made the earth a resting-place for you and the sky a canopy over it, Who shaped you, and shaped you so well, and Who provided you with pure things…(Ch 40: 64)
- Is then the One Who creates like the one who does not create? Will you not, then, take heed? (Ch16: 17)
Yes, you can conclude the blessings of the God are innumerable; this is how the Quran too respond to your inner voice:
- And who gave you all that you asked Him for. Were you to count the favors of Allah you shall never be able to encompass them (Ch 14: 34)
Now, in order to get an exact idea of what is being explained, the Almighty has bestowed humans with the faculties of hearing, seeing and understanding, this way Islam elucidates the concept of God through scientific and rational methods just to help conceptualize the realities.
- Allah has brought you forth from your mothers' wombs when you knew nothing, and then gave you hearing, and sight and thinking hearts so that you may give thanks. (Ch16: 78)
By hearing and seeing we mean the knowledge, studies and explorations, experience and observation, whereas the heart represents the human intellect, the inner feelings, human nature and reason. Making use of these faculties coupled with a keen observation over self and the entire universe results in realization of both the self and God.
don't you believe in God
what makes a person to be an atheist?
What is True God?
We know anything can be either right or wrong; there are no criteria as such to place a thing between the two. The thing can be either true or false, absolutely no middle path. God is God; there is no false God and true God. This is how reality must be perceived, you are what you are, and there can be absolutely no false identity of yours.
To arrive at a reasonable conclusion one has to have a clear understanding about God. Lack of understanding or improper understanding of a particular matter causes frequent variations in both thought and actions. When there is ambiguity and unclear concept of God, there arise a hierarchy of both numbers and functions, how many Gods? What He must be doing now? What if there is no God? The flow of thoughts continues to be on a detrimental track. To know what is the truth one should have a benchmark, for instance to know the exactness of a particular color you need to have a suitable background, here the background provides the required benchmark, similarly to know who is true God we need to have the same and that is our intellect, our heart and brain. Just make use of these faculties and ponder to know about God:
- There is no compulsion and coercion in regard to religion. The right thing has been made distinct from the wrong thing: now whoever rejects falsehood and believes in Allah has taken a firm support that never gives way. (Ch 2: 256).
- Were the truth to follow their desires, the order of the heavens and the earth and those who dwell in them would have fallen into ruin.Nay, the fact is that We have brought something that is conducive to their honor, and they are turning away from that which will bring them honor. ( Ch 23: 71).
- Had there been any gods in the heavens and the earth beside Allah, the order of both the heavens and the earth would have gone to ruin. Glory be to Allah, the Lord of the Throne, Who is far above their false descriptions of Him. (Ch 21: 22)
- Ask them: 'Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?' Say: 'Allah.' Tell them: 'Have you taken besides Him as your patrons those who do not have the power to benefit or to hurt even themselves?' Say: 'Can the blind and the seeing be deemed equals? Or can light and darkness be deemed equals? If that is not so, then have those whom they associate with Allah in His divinity ever created anything like what Allah did so that the question of creation has become dubious to them?' Say: 'Allah is the creator of everything. He is the One, the irresistible.' (Ch 13: 16).
One of most fascinating approaches of knowing God is to reflect over the attributes, if you are not aware of any, just imagine how your God could be, then reflections after reflections, a pristine concept of God would define your persona, here are a few being attributed to the God, its left to you how you are going to articulate that in real sense:
- “He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, the Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.” (Ch 59:22-24).
Look how Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) came to know about the God:
- “When the night grew dark over him, he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord,’ but when it set, he said, ‘I do not like things that set.’ And when he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord,’ but when it too set, he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me, I shall be one of those who go astray.’ Then he saw the sun rising and cried, ‘This is my Lord! This is greater.’ But when the sun set, he said, ‘My people, I disown all that you worship besides God. I have turned my face as a true believer towards Him who created the heavens and the earth. I am not one of the polytheists.’” (Ch 6: 76 to 79).
Let us conclude…..
Let us conclude this discussion with a short story:
- A person asked a scholar how he could convince him about the existence of God. The scholar knew that the man had gone several times on sea voyages; he asked him, “Have you ever been caught in a fierce storm in middle of nowhere? Your rudder gone, your sails torn away, and you are trying desperately to keep your boat afloat?” The man replied yes. Then the scholar asked: “Perhaps even that leaking boat went down, leaving you exhausted and helpless on the mercy of raging waves?” the man again said yes, then the scholar asked: was not there, in all that black despair, a glimmer of hope in your heart that some unnamed and unknown power could still save you? When the man said yes, the scholar replied “ that power is God”.
Its a fact that the humans are with the limitation of the senses whereas the One about Whom we discuss and ponder is simply limitless, here comes the actual hindrance that put not only barriers, but also causes some to shun the belief itself, here the dilemma is that the one with short comings tries to grasp the overall persona of the Omnipresent which is absolutely not possible, the finite ones can’t have an absolute understanding of the Infinite One
- …..you have been given only a little knowledge. (Ch 17: 85)
So the knowledge that a human possesses does not represent their whole persona rather, it’s a part of it, whereas for God, the knowledge defines His persona as He is Aleem (all knowing). True understanding of the finite and infinite coupled with a serious attempt for realization will surely help form an organic relationship with the Creator. See how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) depicts the same:
The Prophet used to invoke Allah at night, saying, "O Allah: All the Praises are for You: You are the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. All the Praises are for You; You are the Maintainer of the Heaven and the Earth and whatever is in them. All the Praises are for You; You are the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. Your Word is the Truth, and Your Promise is the Truth, and the Meeting with You is the Truth, and Paradise is the Truth, and the (Hell) Fire is the Truth, and the Hour is the Truth. O Allah! I surrender myself to You, and I believe in You and I depend upon You, and I repent to You and with You (Your evidences) I stand against my opponents, and to you I leave the judgment (for those who refuse my message). O Allah! Forgive me my sins that I did in the past or will do in the future, and also the sins I did in secret or in public. You are my only God (Whom I worship) and there is no other God for me (i.e. I worship none but You)." (Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: Bukhari Book of Hadith).
To be continued….
© 2014 – Muhammad Abdullah Javed ( m abdullah javed)