What defines a person as Religious?

An Islamic Perspective —

Once upon a time, there is a random guy who comments every people who he thinks weird or somehow, out of his norm. Like,

“Hmmm… that guy wears religious outfit. He must be religious.”

“She always go to mosque/church/temple. She must be religious.”

“He can read Arabic/Greek/Hebrew/insert-random-language-considered-holy. Oh, how religious he is.”

“He has a religious name. His parents must be religious.”

“Well, I have friend who is very religious. She always mentioned God names, in every occasion. Even now she can give good news from God to random people on the street.”

“I have a relative. He is very devoted. He went to mountain every day. He said that he spoke with God.”

“He prayed 7 times per day, more than any average 5-times-guy I knew. I think his faith is deep.”

“In her desk, I saw a bunch of Qur’an. Each with different cover design and color. Some even have rainbow design. And different language translation. She wants to keep in touch with God every time she touch those books.”

“He seldom mentions God name. I think he doesn’t have faith.”

“My religious neighbor, they are chanting weird language every night. They said they spoke a language which doesn’t exist on earth.”

“When I buy an ice cream near McD, some random guys just come to me and said that they have faith and I have no faith so, I may burn eternally at hell. well, I prefer not to be religious, because they have megalomaniac god.”

“There is a man of God that declares cloning as unreligious thing. I heard that at somewhere.”

“He doesn’t use Mercator projection map. He believed that science is the product of the unbelievers.”

“So, his dream is to build an ideal religious planet at different solar system with high quality luxury ever offered at human history with the utmost facility where there will be no unbelievers inhabitant on that planet. I heard he also wanted to build the tallest mosque on universe. Frankly, I don’t know how it will be look like.”

Well, duh. This is, for me, one of weirdest stigma that I ever heard. Not only because this concept somehow is alien for me. But also, this stigma also come from people who claimed themselves as religious. In this blog, I would like to discuss about this interesting word from Islamic perspective, “religious”.

Now, let’s define religious meaning. Religious can be defined as “of, pertaining to, or concerned with religion” [dictionary]. Simply speaking, it has something to do with religion. And if you speak about religion, it has direct correlation with “the way” or the way of understanding life, “faith”, “believe”.

Before we go into the main story, there are two words that should be understood, orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Orthodoxy simple means right believe. In this orthodoxy framework, salvation lies on believe at heart. By simple you accept a certain faith, then here you go, everything will be ok at hereafter. And orthopraxy, this word simple means right action. In this framework, salvation lies on right action at everyday life. By doing good deeds every day, then God will give nice rewards to you.

Now let’s speak about Islam. This word has very broad meaning. And the contents obviously very complex and details. Islam also has several dimensions that speak about politics, law, finance, moral. There are no religious bodies who dictate which is wrong and right like Vatican. Not to mention complicated text on Qur’an, everybody understand this religion on their own. Therefore, it is not surprising sometimes somebody drew heavily different conclusion about this religion.

Abu Hurairah said, The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said:

“Iman (Faith) has over seventy (another report, or over sixty) branches; the most excellent of these is the saying, There is no god but Allah, and the lowest of them is the removal from the way of that which is harmful and modesty is a branch of faith.”

Thus, from Islamic perspective, religious is a combination of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Basically, your faith cannot help you at all if you don’t do good. Because, Iblis (Islamic term for satan who made Eve ate the forbidden fruit. And he is a person who ruled demonic kingdom as a king to make part of humans and jinns have journey to go to hell together with him.) had believe and made interaction with God, but he failed to do good thing, so, well, apparently he will not go to Paradise. And also, your deeds cannot help you at all if you don’t have right believe in heart. Well, this will lead to another question, what is the right believe?

من اهتدى فإنما يهتدي لنفسه ومن ضل فإنما يضل عليها ولا تزر وازرة وزر أخرى وما كنا معذبين حتى نبعث رسولا

Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger. [Qur’an 17:15]

ولا تقف ما ليس لك به علم إن السمع والبصر والفؤاد كل أولئك كان عنه مسئولا

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned. [Qur’an 17:36]

واتقوا يوما ترجعون فيه إلى الله ثم توفى كل نفس ما كسبت وهم لا يظلمون

And be conscious of the Day on which you shall be brought back unto God. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly. [Qur’an 2:281]

فاليوم لا تظلم نفس شيئا ولا تجزون إلا ما كنتم تعملون

So today no soul will be wronged at all, and you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do. [Qur’an 36:54]

If you believe that your reason is good enough to dispute the understanding that has been offered by Islam, then from Islamic perspective, you don’t need to worry at the day of judgment. From Islamic perspective, if you can prove your reason to not become Muslim in front of God, of course you will receive a judgment fairly. But if you cannot do that in front of God, you will also receive a judgment fairly.

For everyone who has strong reason and has confident to prove their faith and action properly at the day of judgment, don’t worry, everybody will get fair judgment. This kind of understanding, sometimes give weird feeling about argumentation that supposed will be happen at the day of judgment. Because, you know, God is all knowing, transcendent, unbeatable. So, if that is the case, if somebody argued something with God, the result will be clear.

Thus, the meaning of faith is not only on the heart, but also from every aspect of life. And we know, to be perfect on every aspect of life is hard. Therefore, each people can be good on their own. If you good at financial thing, then you can be a religious person at a field of finance. Even, it is also possible for you to become shaheed, a kind of ultimate honorable dead that can be achieved by every people. In Islamic terminology, the word shaheed also can be translated as martyr. Everybody who earned this title, will go to Paradise directly in the day of judgment.

One myth that is well spread among people who don’t study Islam well is, shaheed only can be achieved when you died on the holy war. Unfortunately, this statement is wrong. For basic Arabic, now, consider the following statement.

“Shaheed can be achieved when people died during jihad”

Let’s learn simple basic Arabic. In Arabic, the word “jihad” is noun. The word “jahada” is its masculine version of singular past tense verb and the word “jahadat” is its feminine version. Its word root is “juhd”, جهد. The Arabic term of جهد means “effort, potential, stress, tension, labor, strain, pressure, pain, spirit, labor, exert, worry”. “jihad” simply means “exerting the best efforts”, “struggle”, “resistance” to achieve a particular goal [Louay]. Then, how about holy war? In Arabic “holy” is المقدس, and “war” is حرب. So, “holy war” is الحرب المقدسة. Then الحرب المقدسة is not same with جهاد.

Errr, but wait, jihad is holy war, isn’t it?

In Arabic, jihad doesn’t mean holy war, look back again at the meaning list. And unfortunately dear, this word has broad meaning from everyday life to not so everyday life. Struggle doing good for the sake of God, struggle living in the way of God, this is called as jihad. If you pursue your dream to become a good doctor so you can save so many people life in this world, it is also called jihad. If you girl died when you give birth to your child, then you are a martyr. If you are a politician who got shot by your jealous rival because you are struggle to make your country become educated, wealth, and powerful, then you also become a martyr. Or back to finance thing, if you died because you are trying to save million people of a country from devastating monetary crisis, then you became martyr. All of these things mean, express ticket to Paradise.

There is one interesting frequently asked question. Do jihadist get 72 virgins at Paradise? Let me correct it. This reward story came from Hadith. The complete Hadith is like this.

“It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham ‘Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa’id al-Khudhri, who heard the Prophet Muhammad PBUH saying,

‘The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy-two houri, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San’a.'”

Well, that’s the smallest reward. So from Qur’an perspective, unfortunately, they got more than that in paradise. Because you know, in paradise you can wish anything. Moreover, jihadist are the top rank position on paradise, not the lowest rank, so, if you want to get 80000 virgins, obviously you can do that. And if you were a girl, you also can collect 80000 hunks or even something more than that. Simply speaking, technically, nobody know what exactly they will get in paradise. In paradise, there are things that never seen by eye, never heard by ears, and never thought by human nor jinn.

فلا تعلم نفس ما أخفي لهم من قرة أعين جزاء بما كانوا يعملون

And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do. [Quran 32:17]

Now, let’s make a list how to become shaheed. Because, you know, every educated Muslim usually have this kind of dream, to die as shaheed, as jihadist.

Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah said,

“The martyrs are of five kinds: One who dies of plague; one who dies of disease of his belly; the drowned; one who dies under the debris, and one who dies while fighting in the way of Allah.”

Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah said,

“Whom do you reckon to be martyr amongst you?” The Companions replied: “The one who is killed in Allah’s way.” He said, “In that case, the martyrs among my people would be few.” The Companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Then who are the martyrs?” He replied, “He who is killed in the way of Allah is a martyr; he who dies naturally in the Cause of Allah is a martyr; he who dies of plague is a martyr; and he who dies of a belly disease is a martyr; and he who is drowned is a martyr.”

Raashid ibn Hubaysh narrated that Muhammad saw entered upon ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit when he was sick and said,

“Do you know who is a martyr in my ummah?” The people remained silent, then ‘Ubaadah said, “Help me to sit up.” They helped him to sit up, then he said, “O Messenger of Allah, (is it) the patient one who seeks reward from Allah for his patience?” Muhammad said, “Then the martyrs among my ummah would be very few. Being killed for the sake of Allah is martyrdom, the plague is martyrdom, drowning is martyrdom, stomach disease is martyrdom, and if a woman dies during the post-partum period, her child will drag her to Paradise by his umbilical cord.”

Sa’id bin Zaid bin ‘Amr bin Nufail reported, one of the ten Companions who were given the glad tidings of entering Jannah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying:

“He who dies while defending his property is a martyr; he who dies in defense of his own life is a martyr; and he who dies on defense of his faith is a martyr, he who dies in defense of his family is a martyr.”

Interestingly, based on these Hadiths, it is obviously said that, people who died drowned when tsunami striked, technically, they are died as shaheed, as jihadist, as martyr. They will directly go to Paradise.

As complete list,

1. One who dies because of plague,
2. One who dies because of disease of his belly,
3. One who dies because of drowned,
4. One who dies under the debris,
5. One who dies while fighting in the way of God,
6. One who is killed in the way of God,
7. One who dies naturally in the cause of God,
8. One who dies because of giving birth,
9. One who dies defending his property,
10. One who dies defending his own life,
11. One who dies defending his faith,
12. One who dies defending his family,

these are the ways to became shaheed, martyr, jihadist.

So, now, back again to religious. It can be seen that, religious doesn’t mean what it seen on your way of worshiping god. Even it is recommended in Islam to do good things secretly while people don’t know you do it. Let’s analyze some of religious stigma on the top of this post.

1. Wearing religious outfit, well, what is that? Is it kind of white long shirt or one dimensional black design clothes? Let’s see from Hadith

From ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiallahu ‘anhu who said that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

“No one will enter Paradise who has an atom’s weight of pride/arrogance/vanity in his heart.” A man said, “What if a man likes his clothes to look good and his shoes to look good?” He said, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Pride/arrogance/vanity means denying the truth and looking down on people.”

So, if you want to be religious based on Islamic definition, wear something good and beautiful.

2. Go to mosque/church/temple, well, is it mean you are religious? From Islamic point of view, this religious activities is not complete. The complete action should be look like this.

فإذا قضيت الصلاة فانتشروا في الأرض وابتغوا من فضل الله واذكروا الله كثيرا لعلكم تفلحون

And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah, and remember Allah often that you may succeed. [Qur’an 62:10]

And if we see from Hadith,

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

“It is better for one of you to take a rope and carry firewood on his back than for him to go to a man to beg from him who then gives to him or refuses to.”

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

“Da’ud (David), peace be upon him, used to eat from the work of his own hands.”

If you want to be religious, you have to work in this world. Find a honorable work, so you will be called as religious person.

3. If you can speak, a kind of holy language, then you are religious. What is that, Arabic, Hebrew, old Egyptian language? You know, that Pharaoh, Amr ibn Hisham, and Moses people who did sinful things, they are speaking those languages.

4. One who has religious names, like, the parents must be religious. Huh? What is the criterion name is considered as religious, from holy language? Okay, prophet name can be considered religious. But let’s look on the following verses.

ولكل أمة رسول فإذا جاء رسولهم قضي بينهم بالقسط وهم لا يظلمون

And for every nation is a messenger. So when their messenger comes, it will be judged between them in justice, and they will not be wronged. [Qur’an 10:47]

وما أرسلنا من رسول إلا بلسان قومه ليبين لهم فيضل الله من يشاء ويهدي من يشاء وهو العزيز الحكيم

And We did not send any messenger except in the language of his people to state clearly for them, and Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. [Qur’an 14:4]

So, basically, every old language in every part of this world used to be holy language. My advice, use your daily language.

5. Hyper mentioning God names, for what, showing off that you are religious people?

إنما المؤمنون الذين إذا ذكر الله وجلت قلوبهم وإذا تليت عليهم آياته زادتهم إيمانا وعلى ربهم يتوكلون

The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely; [Qur’an 8:2]

Based on this verse, the religious person should be the people who their hearts become fearful when God’s names are mentioned. These guys are the typical guys who respect their God’s names very deeply. Frankly speaking, I admire the Jew people, they treated God’s names very respectful, not mentioning Him carelessly. Even they read יהוה as “Adonai”, and write G-d, instead of God.

6. There is a myth that religious people usually claimed that they have best moral and non-religious people doesn’t have moral at all. Hmm, one thing that should be underlined in Islamic principal, that everybody is born as pure people, have no sin. Islam doesn’t recognize original sin. Because people are basically good, no matter who they are, people who believe in God, even people who doesn’t believe at God at all, they are basically good people, their hearts tend to have universal moral. It is called as “fitrah”. So, moral is not a kind of singular claim that is possessed by religious people, but it is possessed by everybody on this universe. Islam is being said, just to complete the existing moral to be perfect.

Hadith from Abu Hurairah,

“Verily, making high morals complete and perfect is the main part and aim of my mission.”

ولكلّ وجهة هو موليها فاستبقوا الخيرات أين ما تكونوا يأت بكم الله جميعا إن الله على كل شيء قدير

For every nation there is a direction to which they face. So race to (all that is) good. Wherever you may be, Allah will bring you forth all together. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. [Qur’an 2:148]

Therefore, God told everybody to race this competition, the competition for being good, everybody, the believers and the unbelievers. If you are religious, you should understand that your religiosity is contested with many other people morality. So, be good people.

7. Is it true that religious people should hope that they are living at the ideal place and perfect condition where nobody disagrees with them? Duh, this comes to the question, What is the perfect world? World full of peace, world full of harmony, no hunger, and everybody smile? Let’s see part of Qur’an said about this.

الذي خلق سبع سماوات طباقا ما ترى في خلق الرحمن من تفاوت فارجع البصر هل ترى من فطور

He Who created the seven heavens one above another: No want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of the Most Beneficent. So turn thy vision again: seest thou any flaw? [Qur’an 67:3]

God said that He made everything in proportion, at balance, and then He asked, seest thou any flaw? In physical context, one may easily drew conclusion that God creation is perfect. It means at any kind of condition, actually, everything is form of God’s scenario perfectness. It’s kind of Yin-Yang. There is good and bad, peace and war, happiness and sadness, rich and poor, man and women, exist and didn’t exist. They are all at the balance of God’s scenario. For being rich, it means that it is a perfect condition for you to become a good charity giving people. And for being poor, it means that it is a perfect condition for you to struggle with your condition for doing goodness at your limitation that may become an inspiration for others. Simply speaking, if you want to be a religious people, you also should see this world as the land of perfect opportunities to be good in the sight of God.

So that’s it.

I know, this is may be one of boring post. But what I want to share to you is, you can be religious in every aspect of life. Be good businessmen, be good analyst, be good policemen, and all of these are the fields of religiosity. So, be religious in your own way. Have a nice day guy~ 😀