Is It Necessary For Man To Follow A Religion?
The foremost question that comes up here is "what is the relation of men's lives with religion and piety?" Is it not possible for a human society to continue its humanitarian existence without religion and faith in Allah? Is it not that a religious person is one who proves Allah's existence and performs specific acts for His satisfaction?
It is possible that in the society, according to the laws enacted by human beings, the duty of each member of the society determines the benefit and the loss. In this case, the laws of men replace religious laws and there will be no need for religion.
But with little attention and deliberation on Islamic commandments and regulations, the opposite of this is proved, for Islam has not been concerned only with praying to and praising Allah, rather it has enacted comprehensive instructions and specific regulations for all individual and social positions of man. Islam has considered the vast world of humanity in an astonishing manner and has enacted suitable regulations in accordance with man's individual and social actions and otherwise.
Finally, Islam has provided and guaranteed the happiness and prosperity of the members of social community in every respect and to the maximum extent possible. Every just person acknowledges that the laws sprang from man's limited thoughts and knowledge cannot equal those of religion. This power of the Almighty Allah has described the religion of Islam in the Holy Quran. As examples, we will cite few verses here:
"Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam, and those to whom the Book had been given did not show opposition but after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves: and whoever disbelieves in the communications of Allah then surely Allah is quick in reckoning."(1)
The religion towards which all prophets have invited people consists of theism and submission to Allah's orders. Though the religious scholars specified right through wrong, they did not accept what was rightful due to their prejudice and animosity. Each scholar adopted a specific course of action; as a result, different religions came into existence on earth. In fact, this category of people did not believe in the Divine verses. Allah will soon retribute their deeds.
"And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him. and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers."(2)
"O you who believe! enter into submission one and all, and do not follow the footsteps of Shaytan (satan); surely he is your open enemy."(3)
"And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have made a covenant, and do not break the oaths after making them fast, and you have indeed made Allah a surety for you; surely Allah knows what you do."(4)
The purpose of this verse is to indicate that any Muslim who makes a promise to Allah or to people must keep it and must not breach it.
"Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and have debates with them in the best manner; surely your Lord best knows those who go astray from His path, and He knows best those who follow the right way."(5)
This refers to the fact that to promote religion, a Muslim must converse with people according to their understanding and in a way that is beneficial to them. However, if he fails to guide a person through logic and advice then he must debate in the best manner, which is one of the means of proving something, to guide him towards truth.
"And when the Qur'an is recited, then listen to it and remain silent, that mercy may be shown to you."(6)
"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Prophet and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Prophet, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day; this is better and very good in the end."(7)
This verse means that in an Islamic society, disputes can only be settled by the Qur'an and the ahadith of the Prophet (S). Every difference must be settled by these two factors. If a Muslim settles differences by the logic of reason, this is due to the fact that the Qur'an has accepted the rule of logic.
"Thus, it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard-hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust.(8)
Good behavior, benevolence, and taking counsel in the affairs result in fellowship and kindness. Members of the society must respect their leader to be influenced by him. Allah orders the honorable leader of the Muslims to be benevolent and to take counsel. But since it is possible that people may make mistakes in their decisions, Allah orders the leader to be independent in his decision after taking counsel and to have trust in Allah, because no one can oppose Allah's will.
In like manner, the Almighty Allah introduces Judaism and Christianity with their Divine books of Tawrat (Old Testament) and the Injil (Bible) and their social precepts and provisions as:
"And how do they make you a judge and they have the Tawrat wherein is Allah's judgement. .. Surely We revealed Tawrat in which was guidance and light; with it the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged (matters) for those who were Jews, and the masters of divine knowledge and the doctors...
And We sent after them in their footsteps 'Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)... and We gave him the Injil in which was guidance and light, and verifying what was before it of Tawrat...
And the followers of the Injil should have judged by what Allah revealed in it... And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, therefore judge between them by what Allah has revealed ...."(9)
Tawrat and Injil which are now in the hands of the Jews and Christians emphasize this point, because the Tawrat contains many legal and judicial provisions and apparently the Injil confirms and certifies the religious laws of Tawrat.
From the aforementioned statement, it becomes evident that religion as viewed by the Qur'an is the same as the method of living from which man cannot escape. The difference between religion and a social law is that religion is descended by the Almighty Allah, whereas social laws spring from people's minds. In other words, religion unites man's social life with his worship and obedience of the Almighty Allah, while no attempt at such unity is made by social laws.
1. (The Quran 3:19)
2. (The Quran 3:85)
3. (The Quran 2:208)
4. (The Quran 16:91)
5. (The Quran 16:125)
6. (The Quran 7:204)
7. (The Quran 4:59)
8. (The Quran 3:159)
9. (The Quran 5:43 - 48)