Thursday, December 1, 2011

Religion in a World of Science and Technology

Superpersonal Objects and Goals
A religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt about the significance of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation - Einstein.

A truly religious person will certainly respect the religious activities and rites of his/her friends and fellowmen or women, no matter what faith they espouse. It is usually the less religious or one who hold no proper religious faith that looks askance at or even look down upon people faithfully performing the prescriptions of their religious belief. As Einstein implied the "significance of those superpersonal objects and goals neither require nor are capable of rational foundation", meaning that you don't question them at all.

We don't question the faith that we hold nor should we question the faiths that others adopt. We respect their rights to perform all the activities and rites that their religion requires and we expect them to respect ours. The problem is those who don't hold on to any faith or who just pay lip service to a religion, do not know how to respect its requirements and prescriptions. In Islam especially among the Malays, that include those who consider themselves to be Muslims by birth and had no strong commitment to the religion. These people often flout the call to prayer five times in a day and night, would not refrain from taking food and drinks in the month of Ramadhan , would not go to the mosque for mass prayer and listen to the khutbah on Friday, would join others to ogle at females who strut around in a flimsy dress or takes pride in showing off their bossoms, instead of chiding them etc.

The adherents of a religion who do not uphold the requirements of the religion will of course have to contend with their own God in the hereafter (if at all they belief in that). But when they or those who don't subscribe to any religion, refuse to allow others to take time off to fulfill their religious obligations, that's a different story. They are showing disrespect and denying the rights of people to practice their own religion. This is apparent when, for example, meetings are held during the Muslim prayer time, functions begun in the evening before Muslims could perform the Maghrib prayer, and Muslims are not allowed to go off early on Friday to attend mass prayer at the mosque. Bosses who show such disrespect for the religion, are not only being irreligious but can be classified as anti-religion.

The lack of concern and respect for a religion and the activities or rites connected with it, is often reflected in a general apathy to the provision of facilities for fulfilling the requirement of the religion. The call to prayer in Islam is an essential part of the religion and yet there are people who oppose it, saying that it makes too much noise. What about the chanting and the singing in the church or temple? Printing the time schedule for Muslim prayers in the front page of the papers had been a long established practice. But that has been moved to the second or third page and in today's NST (2.12.11) , it's not even there anymore. The radio usually announced the time as we come close to it, but the TV, I am not sure. Must check it again. Such announcement is very important for the time schedule for Muslim prayers changes unlike the time schedule for Sunday Mass etc.

Even in this age of science and technology, religion still plays a major role in the life of most people.Why? It provides a set of values that never change while other values keep changing with the time. Religious truths are never challenged while all other truths are transient in nature and keep changing. What is truthe today may become an untruth tomorrow. Not in religion. Hence those who live by the good book are never derailed. Those who don't, even when they are highly educated and assume the status of geniuses, can ultimately flounder and become drowned in the quagmire of life's mysteries.


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Akhi Norzah,
At long last you have commented on the most salient aspect of life which is religion. In Islam it is the "Deen" encompassing the whole spectrum of our existence, from the cradle to the grave, in fact it begins even before one's conception, ie. in "Lahul-Mahfuz" when the covenant with the Creator is already made. Unless one cares to practise one's faith to the very detail, than it is merely a superficial layer of one's life. To know oneself is to know the Creator, and unless this is internalised, the thin icing can easily be shattered.

norzah said...

Salam Akhi Halim, I really was afraid of touching on the subject in a blog posting. There' s just too much to say and it's so easy to be faulted since we are not ustaz. So I am focusing on just some small issues like the lack of respect
on the part of certain quarters ( including Malay bosses), for prayer time and the need to attend Friday prayer in the mosque. Even NST has stopped printing the prayer time schedule which is an important guide to Muslim readers.

abdulhalimshah said...

Akhi Norzah,
Waalaykumsalam. To convey what is right and avoid what is forbidden is the duty of every Believer and we need not be an Ustaz. We can convey even a phrase from the Noble Al-Quran to earn a good deed for our life in the Hereafter provided we do what we tell others to do, that is in accordance to the words of ALLAH and the Sunnah of the Prophet(PBUH).

norzah said...

Amin, ya Akhi. I've no qualms in conveying and quoting phrases or sentences from the al-Quran but the orthodox gurus always warn us 'unqualified' people from doing so for fear of misinterpretation or misquote. As such I keep to my own area of knowledgeability lest you be charged as a a 'pendakwah tanpa tauliah' or license, hehehe.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Religion was pure and simple to understand and to explain if left within the confines of religious scholars. We look forward to acceptable interpretations. Nothing wrong with religions even now.

It is only when stained by politicians that ordinary folks get divergent views on the same issue. Confusion results and the halal becomes haram and vice-versa.It is most unsettling when we find flaws of their friends dismissed lightly but vehemently opposed if identified as from the opposing party.


norzah said...

When religion is circumscribed by political interests, Akhi Hank, many "ayats" from the al-Quran and sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) are bound to be misinterpreted or given a different connotation to suit the purpose of the political masters. I fully agree that that can cause a lot of confusion among the Muslims in this country. There is always the modern and the orthodox interpretation of famous quotes. Conflict arises and the Mudlims become divided.

Howe aesy it is, therefore, for others to divide the Muslims and even make them fight each other. The Muslims of the world are being manipulated in that manner. 'Allahu yaklamuuna waantum taklamuuun.'

norzah said...

correction: wa antum laaa taklamuun.

Al-Manar said...

I dare not enter into a general religious discussion without sitting face to face. I look at Islam as a simple religion when viewed from its practical aspects. We get divided in attempting to be absolutely correct. And because we have been created with different assets, and we face different problems in life,certain aspects of religious rules are more relevant to us than to others.

It is refreshing to hear views as you have expressed. Indeed we should be aware of different views, and should realise that what we see is not always how it is seen by others.

norzah said...

Religion is indeed not a matter to be discussed lightly in the fb or blog, Akhi al-Manar, and I only focused on attitude towards religion. Some people who only pay lip service to religion even fail to respect people who are fulfilling their religious obligation and the papers even relegate announcement on religious activities and prayer times for the Muslims to a small corner on page 2or 3of the paper or even neglect to print it entirely. That irks me very much althoughnthe English papers never pay much respect to Islamic activities in this country.