Author: Harun Yahya
Publisher: Goodword Books (India)
Pages: 128 Binding: Paperback
Description from the publisher:
This is the way of Your Lord, leading straight: We have made plain Our revelations for those who receive admonition. (Al-Anaam, 126)
Those who listen to the Word, and follow the best (meaning) in it: those are the ones whom Allah has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding. (Az-Zumar, 18)
The principal aim of this book is to induce the reader to make a re-evaluation of matters which he may hither to have deemed quite insignificant, but which are actually the most important issues in his life. In the process, he shall have to keep his prejudices in abeyance until he has made a re-appraisal of those standards which till now, he has accepted as absolute.
We must bear in mind that when one approaches any given situation with prejudices, one is no longer able to make a healthy decision or reach a right conclusion about it. As a matter of fact, when one wants to see something as right, one sees it as right. One perceives a thing as evil since one has already decided beforehand that it is so.
The telling point about these prejudices and presuppositions that they are rarely formed by the individual himself. From the beginning of his life, he is burdened with the countless prejudices that society instills in him. Family, friends and close relations determine his value-judgements the media especially have a great capacity to condition people?s attitudes toward certain subjects. Newspapers and television regularly misrepresent the right as unpleasant, unacceptable and even harmful, while showing the wrong to be good and desirable.
One who readily accepts these prejudices instilled by society, loses a great part of his personality. He acts under the influence of conditioning by others, and does not behave with a free will or mind. Others? predispositions determine his behaviour. He can thus accept only the values that are shown to be true as true. Moreover, when we consider that different societies with different cultural backgrounds happen to believe in different rights and wrongs, we can see that there is not much sense in following the dictates of any given society without questioning its value-judgements. By the same token, what is currently agreed to be wrong and immoral may well be considered acceptable in the future. Eating human flesh is very normal for cannibals, and obeying a crazy leader in a fascist society like Nazi Germany was absolutely right for the people who followed and supported him at that time. The number of examples is legion. What we must stress is that cogitating independently upon society?s conditioning, is conduct which betokens wisdom in the thinker. Such a person is necessarily aware that the ?values? imposed by society may be wrong and may lead to ethical dilemmas if adopted.
Religion - especially today- is one of the most important subjects about which countless prejudices are produced by society. The influence at least of some part of the media has formed many prejudices about religion, which are hard to overcome.
As a result of these prejudices in our societies, religion has become a concept which most people either do not consider important, or believe they do not need to think about, preferring to stay away from it as far as possible. People who fit this definition cannot be said, however, to have adopted such an attitude consciously. For them, religion is an irrelevant subject that is of no benefit to them. On the contrary, it places some restrictions upon them. One having such a point of view would claim, when asked, that he is a Muslim, although religion may be one of the less important matters of his life and one of the subjects of which he is quite ignorant.
Indeed, such a person would never have given any serious thought to religion, not even for once in his life. He would probably never have thought seriously about questions like ?What is the purpose of life, why do I exist? Why does the concept of ?religion? exist?? etc. For him, religion is a matter that generally concerns aged people, that presents some ethical values, but mostly entails many boring, tedious prohibitions and restrictions. He practices some of the religious rituals on religious holidays, and festivals and on some important days like the death of a relative, but he finds only a few of these formal rituals right and necessary and consider certain others as ancient and ?outdated?. Although he usually does not deny religion, he tries, as we have mentioned before, to keep away from it as far as possible.
This wrong perception of religion originates from accepting presuppositions imposed by some part of society without subjecting them to independent scrutiny. However, reasoning and pondering on every aspect of life are very important issues for human beings, the power of reason being what makes them different from animals. In the Qur?an, the ultimate ethical guidebook, the importance of thinking is emphasized in many verses as follows:
?Say: ?To whom belong the earth and all beings therein? Say, if you know!? They will say, ?To Allah!? Say: ?Yet will you not receive admonition??? (Al-Mumenoon, 84-85)
?And We have indeed made the Qur?an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?? (Al-Qumar, 17)
?...This is Allah your Lord; therefore serve Him you: will you not receive admonition? (Yunus, 3)
?Is He then Who creates like one who cannot create ? Will you not receive admonition?? (An-Nahl, 17)
Those who cannot think about religion independently of society?s conditioning will make two great mistakes. The first of these is not being aware of the real purpose of religion, and therefore as a result of trying to avoid religion - not being aware of Allah.
The second fault is supposing that religion exists to drag people to an awkward and bigoted position full of pressures, and to impose duties on people, which go against their very nature. One of the principal reasons for the ?religion is boring? syndrome is the insistent manner of a group of people- supposedly acting in the name of Allah?who display and promote the aforementioned negativity, although such an approach has no bearing whatsoever upon true religion.
Once the individual rectifies the first mistake and starts becoming acquainted with the Creator and the Creator?s attributes, he also rids himself of the superstitions that keep him away from religion. The correction of the first fault brings him a sharpness of mind and a sensitivity which in turn help him to correct the second fault as well. They give him the ability to separate true religion from false structures disguised as religion. Then the individual will realize that religion is easy to live by and brings real happiness, well being and freedom to his life.
In short, the society we live in has formed countless prejudices about religion. However, in approaching religion, the basic criterion must be its original references, like the Qur?an, and not peoples? sayings about religion. In the Qur?an, it has been indicated that following the ?common run of the people? does not necessarily lead us to Allah?s way.
?If you were to follow the common run of those on this earth, they would lead you away from the way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie.? (Al-Anaam, 116)
When a person stops ?following the herd? and begins to think with his soul, he personally sees the reality emphasized in the Qur?anic verse cited above. He steps into a new world which is quite different from that of the ?common run of the people?. This step will drive away from him the darkness, distress, and troubles of his old life and bring to him the countless graces and the deep wisdom of religion.
Before you read through the rest of the book, let us remind you that the word ?religion? refers to Islam alone, as ?The only true faith in Allah?s sight is Islam.? (Al Imran, 19)