"And now they reject the truth when it reaches them, but soon shall they learn the reality of what they used to mock at." -Holy Qur'an 6:5
In reaction to the forthcoming documentary starring Bill Maher entitled "Religulous", I've learned about through his interview with Larry King on Larry King Live last week, do I share these thoughts. Should this concocted term, "religulous", imply that religion is ridiculous, my allegation is that not only is it ridiculous, but irregular to be irreligious, hence, the invented portmanteau of my own, "Irreligulous".
Maher's objective is to induce his audience to the idea that religion is, in addition to imaginary, responsible for the violence, wars and atrocities committed in the world. Let's ignore man's desire for wealth, power and control sought after under the banner of "the ends justify the means", and his relentless ego and ambition for global domination throughout history. Never mind the violent, blood-splashing debates over who's political system or form of government should be implemented. Certainly, wars, most notably the Crusades, have been fueled by religion. But let's not turn our backs and walk away from the greater crimes and bloodshed wrought in the name of secular fanaticism when discussing the topic.
As to why I assert that a state of irreligiosity is absurd and abnormal, I use as a point of reference an individual Maher attempts to further convince us through that religion is ridiculous in his new film; neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg. Newberg performs brain scans and analysis on people who engage in religious/spiritual practices such as praying, meditating or by some means or another communicate to an immaterial supreme being. This sort of neurological research is intended to improve our understanding on why people, generation to generation, continue to believe in God. In a nutshell, the conclusion ever-present in all his books recording and interpreting his scientific findings is that "the human brain is wired to God". And because two of the human brain's primary functions, self-maintenance and self-transcendence, are precisely the same primary functions of religion people naturally seek after one in order for the brain to perform these functions. This, of course, is strictly from a neurological standpoint.
A few statements from different lenses on the subject of religion that inadvertently support my case are:
- "Belief in God is biologically natural." -Andrew Newberg, MD.
- An idea commonly shared among Atheist could be explicated in this single statement: "Being that 'having faith' is ingrained in our brains, it takes quite an effort to liberate ourselves from these beliefs."
- And finally, a saying from the last messenger to mankind, our Prophet, salallahu alayhi wa salaam: "Every child is born upon the pure fitrah."
Everyone ranging from Western philosophers, Eastern mystics to even scientist of today try to reach God in some way. Mystics teach God resides in His creations (i.e. nature) and can be contacted through spiritual experiences. And while there are one side of philosophers who argue the reality of God can be proven through reason; portraying God as a sort of removed Watch Maker uninterested in His creation, another side of philosophers standing on agnosticism argue that God can neither be proven or disproved and they must have material confirmation in order to have faith.
For the Muslim, Allah's existence is self-evident. The very purpose of His creation, aside from obeying Him and being for the use of mankind, is to serve as a sign of His power and goodness... a blatant testament to His presence. Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, is the only one with the ability to create while we can only manipulate what's already available. Allah (swt) has challenged that nothing else could create even a fly. And if a fly were to take something from them they would not be able to get it back (Holy Qu'ran 22:74). There are many evidences to establish the presence of a Creator, all of them examined in the Qur'an, but the one I'll mainly be dealing with revolves about Newberg's statement that "we are wired to God" and that to believe in Him is all but "biologically natural."
What was meant by our prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him, that every child is born upon the pure fitrah is that everyone is born with the awareness of God. And so, in this respect, Newberg is exactly right that it is in our primordial nature, that it is only instinctive for us to accept that our universe, all it's laws and entities, has a Creator. And the Atheist too is right that one cannot remove this idea without extreme difficulty. Which, in reality, no one can never successfully remove or liberate themself from the fitrah. The fitrah will unresistingly express itself in other ways even when one denies God. Exempli gratia the commission of what in Islam is called shirk, or giving rights belonging only to God to something other than God. In this case, they would make chance or coincidence their God or to what they owe the existence and evolution of things. They'll place their faith in "luck"; perhaps reserving for themselves a "lucky" suit they happened to be wearing when they got that great job they've been looking for. Crediting any good or satisfaction to this "luck" deity and any evil or undesired occurance to the "bad one". They may place their heart and trust in something, such as astrology, fortune tickets or a cherished item, to a height that only God is rightfully worthy (lest disaster befalls them will they invoke the one true God). All this, indeed, is the result of containing a distorted concept of God. Which is why He has sent prophets and messengers, all their teachings culminated and finalized through Muhammad (saws), to reveal the proper concept of God and the proper method of acknowledging and serving Him. So by denying God, they deny a vital part of their nature. And just because you deny one of your legs does not make you incapable of walking on both.
The reason for this fitrah or innate awareness of a Creator, is as Allah (swt) revealed in the Qur'an about the covenant He established, spiritually, with all the descendants of Adam including me, you, everyone who existed, exist and everyone who will exist. In this covenant, before we inhabited earth, Allah (swt) asked us all: "am I not your Lord?" and we all confirmed: "Yes, we all bare witness..." (Holy Qur'an 7:127). And what such non-Muslims as Newberg and Eugene D'Aquili of the University of Pennsylvania have inadvertently proven in their neurological research is that echoes of this "yes" are carried by every human being even if deeply in their souls. Should they dismiss it, it is just as Muhammad (saws) explained, that it is due to outside influences over a passage of time that conduce to unbelief or denial of this natural inclination we know as al-fitrah. And when considering the number of Atheist and Agnostics in the world vis-a-vis the believers of God, it only further stresses the abnormality and absurdity of these ideologies.
The remedy? The right concept of God. Recognizing the absolute and unique oneness of God. The remedy? Realizing the purpose God has created us, thereby acknowledging and supplied the opportunity of serving God the right way. The remedy? Islam. Nothing a little deductive reasoning, intellectual research and most importantly, the application of good old-fashioned common sense can't figure out. Responding to the call of your true nature is the greatest favor you can do unto yourself.
Peace be unto those who follow the righteous guidance.