Religion As Part of a Good Life

Some argued that the rain was a sign from God: good (meaning bringing new life) and bad (sadness, God is displeased). Many Muslims are arguing this but missing a grander point: Rain is a sign OF God. Any if we politicize the Signs (Ayat) of God then we those whom God says they take His Signs as a joke:

وَإِذا عَلِمَ مِن آياتِنا شَيئًا اتَّخَذَها هُزُوًا ۚ أُولٰئِكَ لَهُم عَذابٌ مُهينٌ

“Indeed, whenever he learns about some of Our revealed verses, he takes them as a joke! Well, a humiliating punishment will be waiting for him!” Qur’an, 45: 9

يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا لا تَتَّخِذُوا الَّذينَ اتَّخَذوا دينَكُم هُزُوًا وَلَعِبًا مِنَ الَّذينَ أوتُوا الكِتابَ مِن قَبلِكُم وَالكُفّارَ أَولِياءَ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِن كُنتُم مُؤمِنينَ

وَإِذا نادَيتُم إِلَى الصَّلاةِ اتَّخَذوها هُزُوًا وَلَعِبًا ۚ ذٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُم قَومٌ لا يَعقِلونَ

“All you who believe! Don’t take those who mock and belittle your way of life as best friends, whether from among those who received a scripture before you or from among those who reject the truth. Be mindful of God if you’re true believers. When you announce your call to prayer, they mock and belittle it, for they’re a people who have no understanding.” Qur’an, 5: 57-58

وَما مَنَعَ النّاسَ أَن يُؤمِنوا إِذ جاءَهُمُ الهُدىٰ وَيَستَغفِروا رَبَّهُم إِلّا أَن تَأتِيَهُم سُنَّةُ الأَوَّلينَ أَو يَأتِيَهُمُ العَذابُ قُبُلًا

وَما نُرسِلُ المُرسَلينَ إِلّا مُبَشِّرينَ وَمُنذِرينَ ۚ وَيُجادِلُ الَّذينَ كَفَروا بِالباطِلِ لِيُدحِضوا بِهِ الحَقَّ ۖ وَاتَّخَذوا آياتي وَما أُنذِروا هُزُوًا

“There’s nothing to prevent people from believing — especially now since guidance has come to them — nor from asking for their Lord’s forgiveness, except that they’ve followed the pattern of ancient peoples (who denied that God would ever send His revelations to a mortal man) or that they would suffer from the onslaught of (God’s) punishment. We only send messengers to give good news and to warn, but the faithless argue over foolish points in an effort to weaken the truth (in the eyes of their fellows). They take My (revealed) verses and what they’ve been warned with as a joke.” Qur’an, 18: 55-56

God does not send messengers with the purpose or intent to destroy. The first intent is “good news”. The second intent is to warn that beliefs and actions have consequence. This life isn’t only YOLO. It’s YALT (you always live twice!).

عن مالك أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال بعثت لأتمم حسن الأخلاق

Imam Malik reports in his Muwatta’ that the Prophet stated “I was sent to perfect/demonstrate good character”.

So how does religion contribute to a good life? Some aspects of religion are:

  1. Testimony of Faith (this is on-going).
  2. Prayer.
  3. Fasting.
  4. Purification of wealth and materialism. Recognizing your fellow man.
  5. Pilgrimage.

Stop looking to religion to “tell you what’s for dinner”. Instead, ask yourself: “is what I’m eating for dinner permissible? And if so, bon appétit! Meaning: enjoy yourself!

Prayer: it’s a routine and there’s great benefit in that. Structure and routine have been clinically shown to reduce stress.

For example, many people have difficulty finding their keys when leaving the house. And one usually leaves to the house due to some need. By placing a hook near your door provides assurance and is one less thing to worry about; it’s something you can rely on.

Routine reduces the anxiety of the unknown. This doesn’t mean that we should never make changes or experience new things, but a daily routine requires less mental energy and means fewer unpleasant surprises and thus less unexpected stress. Dr. John Preston, PsyD

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