Why Study Religion?
Religion is the most important thing in one’s life. It is an incontrovertible fact that from the beginning of time, humans have engaged in activities that we now call religion, such as worship, prayer, and rituals marking important life passages. Moreover, religions have always asked fundamental questions, such as: What is the true meaning of life? What happens to us after death? How do we explain human sufferings and injustices?
One of the first and important reasons to study religion is to know the purpose of our creation and to deepen our understanding of ourselves. The world we live in is both multicultural and global. We no longer need to travel across the ocean to visit a Hindu temple or an Islamic mosque or to meet a Sikh or a Jain. The chances are that you can find a temple or mosque within a few miles of where we live, and it is almost certain that we will meet someone from any and all of these religious traditions. This makes it even more essential that we cultivate our ability to understand and interpret other people’s religious traditions.
Islam is the last of the great religions and contains in itself the essential principles of all earlier religions. Islam is a strongly monotheistic religion with the worship of One God as its central theme. The religion of Islam is not a mere collection of rites and rituals but a complete system of strong moral convictions, true sincerity brought to the worship of God and the service of humanity, giving up of worldly desires in favour of spiritual achievements, a sign of moral courage in undertaking what one believes to be right and in abstaining from what one believes to be wrong, and a genuine fear of God. The reason why I believe in Islam
- I believe in Islam for the reason that it does not compel me to accept all those matters the sum total of which is called Religion merely on authority but furnishes convincing arguments in support of its doctrines. Islam furnishes me not only with faith but also with the certainty of knowledge which satisfies my intellect and compels it to admit the need of religion.
- I believe in Islam as it does not base itself upon the experience of people who have passed away but invites everybody to a personal experience of that which it teaches and guarantees.
- I believe in Islam as it teaches that there can be no conflict between the word of God and the work of God, and thus resolves the supposed conflict between science and religion.
- I believe in Islam as it does not seek to crush my natural desires but guides them along the right channels. It does not, by altogether crushing my desires, reduce me to a stone; nor does it, by leaving them uncontrolled and unrestrained, reduce me to an animal, but, like an expert irrigation engineer who harnesses uncontrolled waters and makes them run into irrigation channels, thereby bringing prosperity to waste areas, it converts my natural desires by proper control and guidance into high moral qualities.
- I believe in Islam for the reason that it has dealt fairly and lovingly not only with me but with the whole world. It teaches me not to discharge my duties towards myself but insists upon my dealing fairly with every other person and thing, and has furnished me with proper guidance for this purpose.
(Writings of Hazrat Musleh Maud رضی اللہ تعالیٰ عنہ)