Religion Or Country?
For true Muslims, the importance of matters other than religion, such as wealth, fame, honour, or even one’s country, cannot be compared to a religion let alone to be made opposed to it. What such matters can offer to a person at most is only a promise of good life in this world, but what religion offers to everyone is the way to eternal happiness in the hereafter. Hence, the difference is between what is temporal and what is eternal, and no rational person will forsake his eternal bliss for the sake of a temporal life in this world unless he is seriously in doubt of the possibility of an eternal life.
Having doubts of the eternal life, however, is not an argument against the possibility of an eternal life, even though many people still make use of doubt as the reason to deny the hereafter and maintain that only this life is real and matters to them. When one is in doubt, one is uncertain of what position to choose between two opposing views. He cannot simply give weight to one position instead of the other at will. He needs knowledge in order to judge between the two. The stance that a particular matter is more important than religion, however, implies two layers of ignorance: first, the person’s ignorance of the fact that the opposite is the case, and second, his ignorance of the fact that he is actually in doubt.
Knowing that he is actually in doubt, he needs to get himself out of it. He must make up his mind, and it means he must preponderate a position over the other after a careful and thorough consideration of the evidence. To do that he needs knowledge, but what most modern education provides him is more doubt and scepticism instead of certainty and clarity. Religion, it is held, is what people believe to be true on faith alone, and by that what is meant is belief which goes beyond what available evidence could make reasonable. Hence, everybody merely believes that his or her religion is true without any objective way of proving it.
However, such is not what a Muslim would think of Islam. Even though Islam is also based on faith, what is meant by it is “iman”, and the word conveys the idea of peace and tranquillity of the mind and soul. Peace and tranquillity of the soul are only possible when there is certainty of the truth, rather than doubt and agitation. The soul will only be calm and peaceful when it knows the truth. Hence, faith, according to Islam, cannot be blind because it is the outcome of knowledge itself.
The person who thinks that other such matters as aforementioned are more important than religion must have thought that religion is based purely on blind faith, rather than objective knowledge, thus, making it a personal matter, whereas most of those matters are concerned with public interests, and therefore, are more important. As such, he harbours doubts about religion, as well as is unsure whether religion is true or otherwise. Or perhaps, he would take the point of view of utilitarianism: religion is a man-made tool that is useful for governing human society. He is not interested in the truth, rather he is interested only in the usefulness of religion as a tool of the state. Such is the attitude of many secular-educated people nowadays. As mentioned, such an attitude is the outcome of doubt, rather than certainty. Science alone cannot answer all of the problems of man. But the general tendency is to reject everything that cannot be verified using scientific method. This is, however, not a rational attitude. Even though science has contributed much to mankind in the form of material progress, it cannot help us answer the toughest questions concerning life and existence. Science simply cannot tell us from where we come, where we shall go and what is the purpose of our existence. In fact, due to mistaken belief in science as the only knowledge, many have lost hope in knowing the purpose of life. They think life has got no meaning except what we ourselves assign to it. Thus, everybody has to try to find and assign meaning to his or her life using whatever resources available. But when God is rejected and the eternal life is denied, what is left is man and this world. Yet he is still not free. This is because others can still impose their beliefs and values on him using other mechanisms including that of the state.