By Muhammed Siwji (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The people will see a time of patience in which someone adhering to his religion will be as if he were grasping a hot coal.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi? 2260
In such a time, where the progression of science seems to have reached to its peak, and when religion has been separated from life, or at least from secular studies, the question then arises, as a result of the whisperings of the Devil’s associates, and of the (very misleading appearance) of the differing opinions and stands of the Scientific and the Religious Worlds, that, “is there a need for religion?”, and, “if common sense can tell one what is right and wrong, why does one then need a religion to force him/her to do what he/she would then be doing just voluntarily?”
Coming to first what a religion is, according to the Wikipedia, religion refers to any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organizations, that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental. It basically is the belief and worship of a superhuman controlling power.
So why then religion?
Religion sorts numerous issues if understood with pure rationality, but this article shall only address two of them, that are more than sufficient to prove the need for a religion.
First is the finite nature of human society’s knowledge, as in the base knowledge from which such scientific theories against religion are derived, and,
The second is the concept of absolute and relative morality, and this is also related to the first.
- The Finite Nature of the Knowledge Available at Mankind’s Disposal.
All scientific understandings, research, theories and everything that there is to science, comes as a result of the use of the following sources and means;
The 5 senses, and the intellect
However, it is broadly known that the 5 senses and the intellect are limited in their ability to obtain knowledge about any given matter, that they can be deceived to have a great deal of error in them, and that any knowledge obtained from any and all of these senses can be biased, after all, this is why we still have researches and experiments conducted over and over again, in different manners, and why we still obtain new discoveries in fields that we have already studied before.
Therefore, any information obtained from such a source is very questionable, and thus any conclusion derived from it.
2. The Concept of Relative and Absolute Morality
Relative morality is a system where by the morals and virtues are bound to change, and are dictated by the action and thinking of the society, thus it is a relative-sort of an insight, while absolute morality is a system whereby morals are static, and are dictated by a set of fixed laws provided by an Absolute Moral System (or a religion). The fixed laws in an absolute moral system are believed to be of a divine source that possesses the exact qualities needed to determine the exact essence of a deed, and whether it is suitable to be considered as a virtue, or a crime, or neither.
One may argue that common sense suffices to be able to judge the morality of a given matter. In simple matters like lying, oppression, justice, harmony and peace, this is true, however, in more complicated matters like divorces, homosexuality, and abortions, common sense does not suffice and one needs to refer to a moral system for guidance.
Relative morality firstly does not comply with logic, since the majority of the doers and believers of a certain fact do not qualify to justify the validity of that fact in question i.e. just because everyone is heading to a particular direction doesn’t mean that direction is the right direction to be heading to. Yes, this system may offer least resistance, and it may prove something to be relatively moral to do, while in its exact essence, it may be a vice.
Second, relative morality then does not comply with reason because our knowledge of a matter does not dictate what the reality of that matter exactly is. For instance, if we have not yet discovered that a substance is poisonous, that does not mean that the substance is then harmless to consume, since it will still act as poison regardless of the knowledge of the consumer. That is to say, that if our opinion about a matter varies, it varies not because of the variation of the matter itself, but it varies because our understanding of the matter has improved, or has been taken for a ride in the opposite direction.
Relative morality dictates morals based on the knowledge of the people, and this is a very risky source, since, as we identified above, humans have no fool proof source of obtaining knowledge on a particular matter, and thus any conclusion derived of such knowledge is entirely questionable.
Absolute morality, on the other hand, is static, depends not on the belief and thoughts of the majority, and is of a divine source believed to be infinitely knowledgeable, needless, wise, and eternal. Therefore, absolute morality has no room for error in the sense that the law maker has full knowledge of the matter, is not bound to any desire to manipulate the society, and is always present.
Having understood the above, one comes to the conclusion that there is need of an absolute moral system, that should be sourced from the divine intervention and guidance of a superhuman entity.
As a bonus, belief in a superhuman entity is scientifically proven to have positive effect on one’s psychology, as of the words of Kenneth Pargament, a professor of psychology and an expert on religion and health at Bowling Green State University in Ohio; a slew of research has tied being religious with better well-being and overall mental health; several studies have found that devout people have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as a better ability to cope with stress. Certain religious practices may even change the brain in a way that boosts mental health, such studies suggest.
Now this already settles the issue of the need of a religion (i.e. an absolute moral system, and divine intervention). This also settles the question of the need for a superhuman entity for the purpose of law making (the derivation of the absolute moral system).
This however does then raise the question that, “Yes we know we need a God, but does one really exist?”, that I aim to address and answer in my next article on this same site.