Written by Ahmad Fathan Aniq

 

There are many people who have a religion; however, only a few of them have reasons why they believe in the religion. Most of them follow their parents’ religion or their societies’ religion where they are living, whereas, to know the reasons why we should believe in religion is something fundamental before conducting such a teaching of religion.

I knew my religion, Islam, for the first time from my parents. They introduced to me some basic teachings of the religion and told me that if I believe in the religion, I will be saved from hell and I will be able to enjoy paradise. This kind of doctrine is very popular in my society. Parents usually frighten their children with threats of hell when they want their children not to do something immoral.

So, when I was a child, I often imagined what paradise and the hell are. Furthermore, I thought the universe, skies, seas, lands, etc. Whose creations are these? When I asked my parents about this, they answered that they are God’s creations. Immediately, I imagined God. Who is He? Where does He live? How big is He? Many other naughty questions appeared from my head and I never got satisfactory answers when I was a childhood. Now I consider that perhaps people thought it was not the appropriate time for me to know the answers.

I learned the answers when I was studying in junior high school. Furthermore, my understanding of my religion increased when I was studying Islamic theology in the University. Here, I learned to understand Islam from its many aspects.

Islam as a religion, as Mahmud Saltout said, consists of three dimensions; the first is aqidah (belief), the second is syariat (law), and the third is akhlaq (norm). These three dimensions are related to each other. A man therefore, is considered as a Moslem when he conducts these three dimensions proportionally.

Firstly, in aqidah, the Moslem has to believe six facts named rukn iman; believe in one God (Allah), angels, Allah’s books, prophets, hereafter, and the divine decree or fate. Allah is the only one. He does not born and is not born. He has no place but He knows everything. He is different from all creatures.

Secondly, syariat or law is a consequence of aqidah. All Moslems have to act based on Islamic law. Here, we find many understandings of what Islamic law is. Therefore, we see there are many factions in Islam. Differences among Moslems are something unavoidable.

Thirdly, akhlaq is a mind guide that helps someone to do good and avoid sin. There are some kinds of norms in Islam, they are norm to God as a Creator, norm to all human beings, and norm to nature as creatures.

Human beings become excellent by having minds and hearts. Through their minds, they can conquer the world. While with their hearts or senses, they can differentiate between good and bad things. Fitrah, or a human being’s natural tendency, includes the heart. Religions are parts of a human being’s natural tendency.

Muthahhari in his book “Fitrat” tells us about the five kinds of human beings’ natural tendency. They are: to look for truths, to tend to something right, to tend to something beautiful, to create something, and to miss the creator or to have a religion. Even though the tendency to have religion is a kind of fitrah, to determine who or what we should worship in is in the mind’s authority. It is not in the heart’s authority anymore.

Finally, religion for me is a human being’s natural tendency. It is a way of life. It is not opium as Marx said, and it is not society’s stupidity as August Comte said.

Leiden, 13 April 2007