|VIEW OF RELIGION AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS EMPIRICAL KNOWLEDGE|
|Published by tislam|
|Friday, 18 November 2011 15:00|
Dr. MUHAMMAD FAZL-UR-RAHMAN ANSARI
A. VIEW OF RELIGION
(1) Fundamental Nature of Religion: Religion, according to the Qur’an, is the Law of the Ideal Human Nature (30:30), which is to be pursued with due regard to the principle of Balance (55:7-8), i.e., just proportion, correct measure and through harmony.
(2) Fundamental Form of Religion: The fundamental form which enshrines the concept of Religion in the Holy Qur’an is Islam (3:19), which as a religious term means ‘submission to the Divine Will’ (2:207; etc.), in the sense of conformity to the Divine Plan as enshrined in Nature (3:191; etc.) and History (7:176; etc.), and as expressed in Divine Revelation (30:8; etc.),—‘submission to the Divine Will’ being the universal Law of the Cosmos (3:83).
(3) Fundamental Norm of Religion: The religion of Islam is based on the fundamental norm of tawhid, or, Unity. This norm consists of a nucleus at the centre and a number of unicentric orbits around it on which the principle of Unity manifests itself at different levels. Thus we have the ‘Unity of God’ as the Eternal Principle at the centre; with subsidiary unities, which are the creations of the Eternal Principle, at the orbits—untities like the Unity of the Cosmos, Unity of Mankind, Unity of Human Personality, Unity of Faith and Reason, Unity of the Social Order, etc..
(4) Fundamental Function of Religion: Being based on the fundamental norm of tawhid, or Unity, the fundamental function of Islam, in terms of the human life on earth, is Integration,—namely: (a) integration of human personality; (b) integration of social order; (c) integration of units of mankind divided on the basis of race, colour, language, etc. In other words, that function consists in: (a) the realisation of the ideal of comprehensive, harmonious and balanced development of the individual and the Society; and (b) the realisation of the ideal of Unity of Mankind.
(5) Form of Fundamental Achievement envisaged by Religion: This problem is originally grounded in the views relating to the nature of the world and the nature of man. Hence those religions which teach that the world is evil and that every human being is born in sin—on the basis of either the dogma of inheritance of the ‘original sin’ of mankind’s parents or the hypotheses of Karma and transmigration of souls—conceive the form of fundamental religious achievement in terms of ‘deliverance from evil’. They stand, therefore, in the category of Religions of Salvation. As opposed to them, the Holy Qur’an teaches that the world is good (32:7) and that every human being is born sinless (6:164; etc.).
Hence it emphasises the form of fundamental religious achievement in terms of ‘positive acquisition of the Good’, as, besides the entire sweep of its philosophy of life, its emphasis on the terms falah (actualisation of latent forces) and fauz (success and achievement) affirms. Islam is, thus, the Religion of Fulfilment,—and of fulfilment par excellence, because it emphasises the acquisition of the Good both in the earthly existence of a Muslim and in the life after death (2:201).
It should be noted here in passing that there is a world of difference between ‘deliverance from evil’ and ‘acquisition of good’. The former is a negative concept, the latter is positive. The former is wedded to pessimism, the latter to optimism. The former bestows a static and effeminate outlook, the latter a dynamic and virile outlook. The former invites to a life of renunciation and asceticism, the latter invites to a life of Jihad, i.e., perpetual struggle against the heaviest odds for the promotion of good and eradication of evil (3:109; etc).
(6) Path of Religion: The Holy Qur’an has emphasised the concept of the ‘Straight Path’ (1:5), which, in the very nature of the case, denotes the shortest and the most direct path. Then, this ‘path’ has been defined as the Pursuit of the law of Ideal Human Nature (30:30), which bears the glory of the impact of what God calls His ‘spirit’ (ruh) (32:9). Divine guidance, in the form of the Holy Qur’an and the scriptures that were revealed by God for the benefit of the different communities of the world prior to its revelation, forms the exposition of that Law undertaken by God out of love for humanity. The path of Religion consists, therefore, not in mysterious dogmas and magical rites, but in the fulfilment of human destiny in accordance with the demands of Ideal Human Nature and the status of the Vicegerency of God. That necessitates, in its turn, constant exercise in respect of: (a) acquisition of control by the higher self over the lower (or, the animal) self which always forms the greatest obstacle in connection with the pursuit of all idealistic yearnings: spiritual, moral, intellectual, social and aesthetic,—in order to build up human personality in harmony with the demands of ideal human nature; (b) understanding human personality, Nature and History, for the sake of pursuit of harmony in terms of human society: (c) effort for service to, and reform of, the society for the practical establishment of harmony in the social order; (d) subjugation of Nature through the power of knowledge, in order to bring the natural environment into harmony with ideal human aspirations; (e) submission to God, Who is the Basis of all Existence, the Source of all Excellence, and the Fountainhead of all Values, thereby to establish harmony with Him—which harmony alone bestows fundamentally the capability to achieve the human destiny in the true sense.
(7) Goal of Religion:
In the above discussion, the Islamic goal of religion has emerged in terms of the fulfilment of human destiny, which every individual is under obligation to realise in the measure of his personal capability only, as clearly set down in the Holy Qur’an: “Allah puts no burden (of duty) upon any soul beyond what it can bear” (2:268). In concrete terms, it means the actualisation, in accordance with one’s capacity, of the potential ‘vicegerency of God’, which has been bestowed on humanity as a whole by its Creator (2:30).