Saturday , December 16 2017

Philosophy of faith

Yusuf Awadh Al-Azmi

“RELIGION is an infinite consciousness” — Max Muller. I read some excerpts of an article on certain types of human behavior.

The purpose of research therein was the essence of behavior in the ancient Al-Rafideen civilization (ancient Iraq). Human behavior, since the inception of caliphate era, has been leaning towards religion to block the sources of fear in the minds of people. Religion, according to people of the ancient era, is a spiritual sanctuary and represents protection of mind.

During those age-old days, whenever a human being was afraid of anything, he would seek religious refuge. Imagine a man of ancient days creating an idol or sculpture to which he runs to whenever he is scared or afraid, to which he discloses his problems and places his hopes on, and to which he swears by.

However, it still is just a sculpture created by that man himself, which cannot hurt or benefit him in any way and which the man can destroy if he so wishes! If this is the case, why do human minds stoop so low to such a strange mistake, even though he is sensible and has the ability to differentiate between right and wrong? There is no specific answer to this question, but we can only conclude that a mind needs spiritual sanctuary, no matter what. This is why it is almost difficult to find a person who does not follow a religion, faith or belief.

In the Mesopotamia, there were various religions and many types of gods such as god of heaven, god of earth and god of eternity.

As per the religious belief back then, the priests held a special place in the political arena and had a say in political decisions. They participated widely in politics to the extent that the topmost position was their exclusive right! This was how the religious position of became conspicuous, while they were politically corrupt. The exploited top religious positions for certain purposes. This has been a recurring situation since the era of caliphate until today. To this end, some trusted religious leaders even exploit people’s love for religion to achieve political gains. This extends to exploitation of leadership positions for achieving commercial gains. We have concluded that ordinary people who have respect for religion have been deceived by who show them a different face with the sole aim of using religion for illegitimate aspirations. Exploitation of religion for political purposes was evident in the Mesopotamia whereby used religion as the means to deceive people and attain leadership positions, such that this situation almost represent political pragmatism.

On this note, I will talk about the Scottish social anthropologist James Frazer who was one of the philosophers to explore religion devoutness scientifically and philosophically. He was influential during the early stages of modern studies on mythology and comparative religion. He is often considered as one of the founding fathers of modern anthropology.

James Frazer stressed that religion is a process of satisfying and getting closer to a powerful force that surpasses the power of a human being. I will summarize what he meant in two concepts – the first (theoretical) is the belief or faith in the existence of a powerful and supreme force that is higher than any living being.

The second (practical and scientific) is the attempt to win over or attract this force and ensure its satisfaction. We can deduce that the faith factor falls in the first category and comes first. Frazer said faith, if not accompanied by rituals and practices, becomes just a theological concept, because faith without rituals or ceremonies will eventually die. What he means to say is that religion is a spiritual relationship between devoted individuals and a supreme power that they depict in their special way such that they are content with its authority and find reassurance in it. They submit to it under normal circumstances and resort to it in severe times. If we try to link philosophy to religion (Where is religion and which faith?), we will come to the conclusion that religions can never be in agreement or in harmony with philosophy. In fact, some religions even doubt philosophers and cast them out of the religious circles or even kill them just like what happened to the Greek philosopher Socrates. In the end, we can conclude that religion is part of human mentality. It is hard to find a person who does not believe in a religion, faith or cult. Religion holds a special spiritual place in the lives of human beings which they cannot get rid of. However, the Lord of the Universe is the only one worthy of worship. The Almighty Allah resolved that in the Quran when he said, “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship me” (Surat Adh- Dhariyat Verse 56).

By Yousef Awadh Al-Azmi

twitter@alzmi1969

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