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Al-Islam is the natural, rational and upright way of life. This is the claim and the challenge put forward by al-Islam that anyone who thinks otherwise should come with an alternative.

Human being is a reality and life is as well a reality. A Human being lives a life based on his understanding of it. Every human being wants to live a happy life. A happy life is a harmonious life - a life of conformity to the actual reality of life.

"To unravel as far as possible that design underlying the universe and to attempt to live in accordance with it, is for man the noblest goal to which he can commit his energies." The Gifts of life & love by Ben Zion

Therefore, can a natural and rational way of living as explained above be equated with RELIGION? On the other hand, is al-Islam a religion?

Language is one of the best gifts by which human beings excel other animals; nonetheless, the same language could become very dangerous when it is not used carefully.

What notions do we have in the world today when we use the words ?Religion?, ?Worship?, ?Ritual?, and ?Rites?? This is what matters.

While Encarta Dictionary would conveniently define Religion as ?Beliefs and Worship or people?s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life?, the word ?Worship? remains ambiguous.

If ?Worship? is to be defined as just intense love then al-Islam fits into the definition of religion above. This is because life generally, is built on beliefs and worship. Naturally and compulsorily, a human being builds his understanding of life into beliefs and compulsorily, the beliefs result into love and worship.

However, the truth of the matter is that our notion of Religion is different. This is how Encarta Encyclopedia defines our true notion of religion.

?The word religion is derived from the Latin noun religio, which denotes both earnest observance of ritual obligations and an inward spirit of reverence. In modern usage, religion covers a wide spectrum of meanings that reflect the enormous variety of ways the term can be interpreted. At one extreme, many committed believers recognize only their own tradition as a religion, understanding expressions such as worship and prayer to refer exclusively to the practices of their tradition. Although many believers stop short of claiming an exclusive status for their tradition, they may nevertheless use vague or idealizing terms in defining religion?for example, ?true love of God,? or ?the path of enlightenment.? At the other extreme, religion may be equated with ignorance, fanaticism, or wishful thinking.

By defining religion as a sacred engagement with what is taken to be a spiritual reality, it is possible to consider the importance of religion in human life without making claims about what it really is or ought to be. Religion is not an object with a single, fixed meaning, or even a zone with clear boundaries. It is an aspect of human experience that may intersect, incorporate, or transcend other aspects of life and society. Such a definition avoids the drawbacks of limiting the investigation of religion to Western or biblical categories such as monotheism (belief in one god only) or to church structure, which are not universal. For example, in tribal societies, religion?unlike the Christian church?usually is not a separate institution but pervades the whole of public and private life. In Buddhism, gods are not as central as the idea of a Buddha (fully enlightened human being). In many traditional cultures the idea of a sacred cosmic order is the most prominent religious belief. Because of this variety, some scholars prefer to use a general term such as the sacred to designate the common foundation of religious life.

Religion in this understanding includes a complex of activities that cannot be reduced to any single aspect of human experience. It is a part of individual life but also of group dynamics. Religion includes patterns of behavior but also patterns of language and thought. It is sometimes a highly organized institution that sets itself apart from a culture, and it is sometimes an integral part of a culture. Religious experience may be expressed in visual symbols, dance and performance, elaborate philosophical systems, legendary and imaginative stories, formal ceremonies, meditative techniques, and detailed rules of ethical conduct and law. Each of these elements assumes innumerable cultural forms. In some ways there are as many forms of religious expression as there are human cultural environments.?
Microsoft? Encarta? Reference Library 2003. ? 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Based on this definition, it is better to regard al-Islam as a way of life rather than a religion to avoid confusion of notions. The importance of this will become clearer when we look into the definition of ?Ritual?

Ritual, according to Encarta Encyclopedia, is ceremonial or symbolic act given importance by repetition. Rituals often accompany rites of passage and religious observances.

Rite: a solemn and ceremonial act or procedure that follows the rule customary to a community, especially a religious group (often used in the plural)

Mysticism: the belief that personal communication or union with the divine is achieved through intuition, faith, ecstasy, or sudden insight rather than through rational thought
Microsoft? Encarta? Reference Library 2003. ? 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

While Ritual and Rites may go very well with the definition of Religion, it is totally irrational when brought into the realm of al-Islam.

Al-Islam is a practical reality that is set to evolve the correct beliefs in the heart based on the apparent material world. Al-Islam has nothing to do completely with Mysticism.

If a normal person does not regard maintenance of Hygiene and Sanitation as rituals, why would the emphasis placed on cleanliness by Allah and His Prophets be regarded or turned into ritual? This is what Encarta Encyclopedia says concerning bathing.

?Bathing has been part of religious practice as ritual purification since early times. It is still important among Hindus and Muslims. The mikvah in Orthodox Judaism and baptism in Christianity are derived from ritual bathing. Bathing has also been considered important to health and comfort in some societies, notably those of the ancient Greeks and Romans and those of the West in modern times. Bathing may also have a social function, as in ancient times and in Turkey, Iran, and Japan.?
Microsoft? Encarta? Reference Library 2003. ? 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Would there probably be any reason while Allah would request that we do anything except for the practical, material and rational purpose of it?

We must not fail to understand that human mind can only perceive the material world and that the brain can only analyse the material world. It is based on the analyses that beliefs are formed upon which the Heart reacts with love. This is the way (sunnah) of Allah which can neither be modified nor negated. There is no belief and a human being cannot form any belief that does not have a material origin.

It is unfortunate that the Jews, Christians, Sunnis and the Shias have turned the ?Deen? of Allah into rituals and therefore become cut away from the reality of life. It is not surprising therefore to see these ?RITUALISTS? practicing the ?Deen? as part of their life.

The Prophets (a.s.) thought them cleanliness so as to maintain their health; they mystified and turned it into superstition and mysticism.

The Prophets (a.s.) thought them ?as-Salaat? so as to maintain their vigilance and remain focused in life; they turned it into rituals and mystical dancing and singing even though they have been warned in the Book. That is how they observe the ?Salaat? but they are unmindful of it.

The Prophets (a.s.) thought them ?az-Zakaat? as a sort of self-sacrifice but again, it is given a mystical face.

The Prophets (a.s.) thought them ?as-Sawm? so as to practice self-restraint but it has become spiritual hunger experience.

The Prophet (a.s.) thought them ?al-Hajj? as a way of social-gathering to look back into history, understand their position and plan against the future but it has been turned into mere RITES.

No wonder, they neglected ?Self-Assessment? and only read the Qur'an for reward.

What a ?Deen? but What a People!

Jazakallah brother. With he ongoing practise of ritualism, more os these written articles should be publicised for the benefit of our ever growing ummah to turn away from ppl who try to influence them in such practice and also for other to know the sin it carries


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