Many people find the idea of religion so foggy and irrelevant to their daily lives. They can’t comprehend why does some people follow this religion or that. As a Muslim I shall tackle the issue from my perspective but I believe that my words shall be resounding for people from other faiths as well, so here we go… The main purpose of religion is to help us purify our instincts, utilize them in getting to know the Creator who has originated everything, understand the task for which He has created us, and follow the path that can lead us to fulfill this task.
When the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad and he started preaching what it taught, its teachings and provisions were mainly concerned with purifying people’s hearts, and dispersing the foggy clouds from upon their God-given pure instincts. The most important thing that anyone can learn from studying the lives of prophets, righteous pious humans; and those who followed their path, is how to be endowed with a pinch of their characters. So by all means, the true understanding of religion, is to acquire the instinctive pure spirit with which we should live, and perform our rituals, not merely adopting a certain appearance while performing them, nor is it the knowledge of the Dos and Don’ts in one’s religion.
Our sheikhs used to say, “Raising righteous Muslims is what matters, not building Mosques.”
If you read the Qur’an and ponder over its verses, you will find that it does not speak about establishing mosques or Islamic states, it speaks about the instinctive characters and morals of those who should inhabit them. Its main concern was raising righteous persons with sound hearts.
Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah never looks at your faces or appearances, but He observes the hearts inside your chests.”
The reader here should understand that whenever the Islamic teachings speak of hearts, they are not referring to the organ that pumps the blood through your body, they are referring to the main instrument through which you get to sense the reality of things, and differentiate between wrong and right. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Have the people not traveled through the land to make their hearts understand and let their ears hear, verily it is not the eyes that go blind but the hearts inside chests.” [The Qur’an (22:46)].
Allah tells us in the Qur’an that Prophet Abraham invoked Him saying:
“[O Lord] do not disgrace me on the Day when all people are resurrected: the Day when wealth and children will be of no avail, when the only one who will be saved is the one who comes before [You] Allah with a sound heart.” [The Qur’an (26:87-89)].
Later on Allah describes Abraham saying: “Abraham was of the same faith [as Noah], he drew near to his Lord with a sound heart.” [The Qur’an (37:83-84)].
Finally, Allah describes the dwellers of Paradise in the hereafter saying:
“Paradise will be brought near to the righteous and will no longer be far away. This is what you were promised—this is for everyone who often turned to Allah and kept Him in mind, who feared the Compassionate One though He is unseen, and returned to Him with a sound heart.”
[The Qur’an (50:31-33)].
This is why Allah tells us in the Qur’an that among the supplications of those who are knowledgeable is that they say: “O our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after you have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy, Indeed You are a Munificent Giver.” [The Qur’an (3:8)].
Those with pure instincts and sound hearts always respect good morals and incline towards what’s right. They always try to make it victorious in the best of their capacities, and where it really matters, they might sacrifice their own lives just to see it prevail. They always seek after what’s beneficent for all people, not just for themselves. They are always cheerful, easygoing and they are never troublesome. Whenever they are asked for help, they grant it. Whenever they are treated ignobly, they show patience. They are never arrogant or self-conceited. They always remember their sins, not their good deeds. They never tell a lie, cheat or betray.
From this, one may conclude that our most important task as humans is to uplift the foggy clouds accumulating upon our hearts, retrieve our pure instincts, and raise sound hearts.
Written by: Ehab Shawky