// Are you Religious?
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BrKhalid
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« on: Feb 20, 2011 10:17 PM »


Asalaamu Alaikum bro

If someone stopped you in the street and asked you, 'Are you religious?'

How would you answer?


How exactly how do we define 'religiousness' in this modern age of ours?

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 18, 2011 04:54 AM »

The first thing i would say(or ask) is, what do you define as "religious?"  Then i would proceed to answer the question with the questioners definition in mind..

But Subhan'Allah, for the Muslim, or at least for me, the word is a strange one.  To many, the word "religious" means someone who practices his faith more than the average joe of that religion, or it means one who has a higher level of faith or iman than the average believer.  However, i would fret from using that word to describe myself because it gives off an arrogant vibe.  It reminds me of a saying i heard a while back, "The one who recognizes his own humility has no humility at all."  It shares the idea that to recognize yourself as someone who has humility is in contradiction to the very definition of humility.  In the same way, for a Muslim to claim to be "religious", to me, is seen an inherently arrogant act and contrary to the character of a true Muslim.  But of course, it all depends on how we define "religious."  Of course, in the end, actions are judged by intentions as our beloved Prophet taught us. 
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 18, 2011 05:34 PM »

wsalam,

I think I wrote a blog post on this? Anyhoo Smiley, I don't like that term "religious" because it has so many weird connotations, but I'd think we mostly use it in the sense 'are you practicing your religion?' ie do you go to mosque/church, praying, fasting etc. So practicing yes!


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« Reply #3 on: Mar 19, 2011 11:18 AM »

I think in the modern age... religiosity has more to do with whether your ascribe to an organized faith or not, and less to do with how much you practice it.  So if someone stops me on the street to ask whether or not I am religious - keeping my view or my definition of the word aside (where I agree with Al-Abd) - I would probably say 'yes', because I do not want to leave someone with the misconception that I may be 'agnostic', 'atheist', or even a 'naturist'.  My 'yes' could be accompanied with an explanation, if the person asking seemed remotely interested, but again, in the modern day, no one - least those asking on the street - is really listening for an explanation.

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« Reply #4 on: Mar 19, 2011 12:04 PM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

Quote
I think in the modern age... religiosity has more to do with whether your ascribe to an organized faith or not, and less to do with how much you practice it.

It's a fair point and Br Al-Abd's requirement for a stricter definition is probably the way to go on this.

After all religiosity could mean different things to different people (Muslim v Non Muslim) and could vary from someone who just believes in God but does nothing else to someone who lives and breathes the religion.

Are Muslims necessarily religious?

Do we need to ask (as Sr Jannah suggests) if people are practising Muslims?

If so, can we be sure if there are actually sincere in their practicing?

Can there ever be, for example, an acid test to guage a person's faith?

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 19, 2011 10:48 PM »


Can there ever be, for example, an acid test to guage a person's faith?

I would say there definitely isn't a flawless way for a Muslim to guage another Muslim's Iman since Iman is an attribute of the heart.. and unfortunately we don't have little "Iman scanners," we can use on people, lol.  The reason i said there isn't a flawless way rather than no way at all is because generally a person's actions are a manifestation of their level of iman, so you can sort of use a person's actions as  a gauge, but then again, many of the hypocrites of the Prophet's(s.a.w) time used to be keen on being the first ones in the first row to fajr salah to show their "devotion" to islam. So, actions can definitely be deceiving.  Forget others, I would even say gauging my own iman is quite difficult at times.  Subhan'Allah, the nafs can be a tricky thing.  For example, sometimes we will do certain actions, like help out for some Islamic event, and we will think to ourselves, yes i'm only doing this for the sake of Allah, but then we find out our friends weren't able to make it and aren't so enthusiastic to help out anymore.  The fact that our willingness to help out decreased due to our friends not being able to show up is an indication of a diffeciency in our initial intention. In the end, only Allah knows what dwells in the hearts of men.  He knows us more than we know ourselves, Subhan'Allah.
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 21, 2011 09:21 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

An interesting story related to this topic from a more Christian perspective.



Many people 'are not religious'
 
Nearly two-thirds of people do not regard themselves as "religious", a new survey carried out to coincide with the 2011 Census suggests.


The British Humanist Association (BHA), which commissioned the poll, said people often identified themselves as religious for cultural reasons.

The online poll asked 1,900 adults in England and Wales a question which is on this month's census form.

The Office for National Statistics has defended the wording of the census.

While 61% of the poll's respondents said they did belong to a religion, 65% of those surveyed answered "no" to the further question: "Are you religious?"

Two surveys were commissioned, one covering England and Wales, and the other for Scotland.

South of the border 61% of respondents said they did have a religion.

But only 29% also said they were religious, while 65% said they were not.

Among respondents who identified themselves as Christian, fewer than half said they believed Jesus Christ was a real person who died, came back to life and was the son of God.

Another 27% said they did not believe that at all, while 25% were unsure.

In Scotland 42% of respondents said they did not belong to a religion, yet in a further question "Are you religious?" 56% answered "no".

The BHA has complained the wording of the optional census question about religion encourages people to wrongly identify themselves as believers.

In the last census in 2001, 72% of people were classed as Christians - a figure which is much higher than other surveys.

The BHA believes people might tick "yes" to the census question on religion for reasons if cultural identity.

The chief executive of the BHA, Andrew Copson, is running a national campaign encouraging non-religious people to state their unbelief clearly on their census forms.

He said: "This poll is further evidence for a key message of the Census Campaign - that the data produced by the census, used by local and national government as if it indicates religious belief and belonging, is in fact highly misleading.

Religious affiliation
 
The humanists say data which might indicate a greater amount of religious belief than actually exists, is being used to justify faith schools, and the continuing presence of Anglican bishops in the House of Lords.

The Office for National Statistics has defended the wording of the religion question.

A spokesman told the BBC: "The religion question measures the number of people who self-identify an affiliation with a religion, irrespective of the extent of their religious belief or practice."

The think-tank Theos, which undertakes research into religious matters, says attempting to measure cultural affiliation to religion - rather than actual, regular practice - is a good idea, as it shows the broad values society shares.

They also dispute the BHA's assertion that the collected data is used for political purposes.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12799801

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 21, 2011 10:59 PM »


Can there ever be, for example, an acid test to guage a person's faith?

I would say there definitely isn't a flawless way for a Muslim to guage another Muslim's Iman since Iman is an attribute of the heart.. and unfortunately we don't have little "Iman scanners," we can use on people, lol.  The reason i said there isn't a flawless way rather than no way at all is because generally a person's actions are a manifestation of their level of iman, so you can sort of use a person's actions as  a gauge, but then again, many of the hypocrites of the Prophet's(s.a.w) time used to be keen on being the first ones in the first row to fajr salah to show their "devotion" to islam. So, actions can definitely be deceiving.  Forget others, I would even say gauging my own iman is quite difficult at times.  Subhan'Allah, the nafs can be a tricky thing.  For example, sometimes we will do certain actions, like help out for some Islamic event, and we will think to ourselves, yes i'm only doing this for the sake of Allah, but then we find out our friends weren't able to make it and aren't so enthusiastic to help out anymore.  The fact that our willingness to help out decreased due to our friends not being able to show up is an indication of a diffeciency in our initial intention. In the end, only Allah knows what dwells in the hearts of men.  He knows us more than we know ourselves, Subhan'Allah.

I agree with this, there is no way to know. As most of you know I married a man because his character/actions were "very good". He even had the Imam fooled. It was very deceiving. In the end, I divorced him after 6 months of marriage and it was a horrible time. Alhamdulillah. However, the beauty in Islam is the one on one we have with our creator. I believe the nafs can be tricky and we never honestly know another. The one thing that helped me when I knew I wanted to marry, but I was scared to death to do it without dating. This was because the last time I followed Islam, as best as I could, I was in a whole heck of alot of pain.
So my "gauge" ended up being Allah. If I could not trust anyone, including myself I could trust in my Lord. Never would he hurt me. Only things already prescribed to me could help me or harm me, either way it was from my Lord, who has my best interest. So I just worry about my "trusting Allah gauge" and  go from there.

When someone asks me if I am religious I say yes. I feel when they ask this, they tend to be thinking where is GOD as a priority in your life.

I believe in Islam like the sun rising, not because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 22, 2011 10:07 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

Certainly some interesting perspectives and I'm not sure there can ever be a definitive answer to the orginal question.

That said, there does seem to be some principles which we have highlighted in this discussion.


Firstly religiousness or religiosity can vary between wide extremes. There are those who simply believe as opposed to those who believe and also practice. Indeed the Qur'an often mentions the phrase 'those who believe and do righteous deeds' so there is an indication that basic faith is not merely enough.


External actions are easy to observe but when it comes to assessing sincerity there is an issue because we are unable to fathom people's intentions. If that is the case how can we tell if someone is indeed 'religious' and we will not be 'fooled' (as Sr Christine put it) by outward behaviour.

I like the the idea of Br Al Abd's 'Iman scanners' bro

Wouldn't it be great if we could walk around and then periodically check if our faith was waning so we could do something about it. I have visions of those Tamagotchi games from Japan where you had to look after a virtual pet and if you did not feed it or play with it often enough it would whither away and die.


So if people don't go walking around displaying Iman credentials, what are we to do? Is there anything out there which we can use in our search for the acid test to guage faith?

Well perhaps there may be something….


TO BE CONTINUED

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #9 on: Mar 22, 2011 10:42 AM »


Firstly religiousness or religiosity can vary between wide extremes. There are those who simply believe as opposed to those who believe and also practice. Indeed the Qur'an often mentions the phrase 'those who believe and do righteous deeds' so there is an indication that basic faith is not merely enough.


External actions are easy to observe but when it comes to assessing sincerity there is an issue because we are unable to fathom people's intentions. If that is the case how can we tell if someone is indeed 'religious' and we will not be 'fooled' (as Sr Christine put it) by outward behaviour.

Wouldn't it be great if we could walk around and then periodically check if our faith was waning so we could do something about it. I have visions of those Tamagotchi games from Japan where you had to look after a virtual pet and if you did not feed it or play with it often enough it would whither away and die.

So if people don't go walking around displaying Iman credentials, what are we to do? Is there anything out there which we can use in our search for the acid test to guage faith?

Well perhaps there may be something….


TO BE CONTINUED

This is an interesting discussion but I'm getting the sense that the thread is making it sound as if faith or spirituality needs to become more clinical, and personally for me, I don't think that's how it is supposed to be.  We all have moments when our Iman dips, unless perhaps one is extremely pious.  But for the rest of us isn't this our journey, to overcome our nafs and desires and continue to better ourselves?  We all know that the heart turns and changes a lot, surely that is enough of an indication for us that we need to sort out our intentions, become more sincere in our intentions and actions and increase our good deeds?

Even if there was a scanner to check other people's situations I don't know how much value I would put in it.  There are countless narrations of people doing one good act which has then gained them Allaah's Forgiveness and Paradise. So if one could see another's Iman scanner and saw that the level showing wasn't very high for instance, how would one treat such a person?  Would one avoid them, look down on them, think ill of them, etc?  This can lead to one committing sins oneself.  Also, what if you could have gained more reward by teaching this person a better way to live their life but you were turned off by the Iman level their scanner was showing?  You've potentially stripped yourself of gaining some kind of reward yourself because in the end you didn't help this person... Or it could be that you become complacent with being at a certain level, when really you could achieve for so much more but you stop aiming any higher.

The Prophet himself, who is the best of creation, did not know what was in the hearts of men and was later informed that some people were actually hypocrites.  If the Prophet wasn't privy to this info, why would we think we would need to know this kind of sensitive, delicate personal info ourselves? 

I think that the fact we don't have any kind of 'test/scanner' is potentially a good thing because it retains hope that one can still be Forgiven by their Lord and for me, makes it easier to understand and believe in the concept that Muslims should live between hope and fear-hope that they will be Forgiven and fear that they will be punished.  

Sorry if I've gone off track, or if I've misunderstood things, as well as if some of this doesn't make sense.  I'm at work so can't really expand on some of the things I've written nor link things up more coherently, but hope you get the gist of it.


'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 22, 2011 12:29 PM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

Quote
We all have moments when our Iman dips, unless perhaps one is extremely pious.  But for the rest of us isn't this our journey, to overcome our nafs and desires and continue to better ourselves?  We all know that the heart turns and changes a lot, surely that is enough of an indication for us that we need to sort out our intentions, become more sincere in our intentions and actions and increase our good deeds?


I would not disagree with any of that, in fact, probably quite the reverse.

Is being religious, therefore, not actually about the state we are currently in but more to do with where we actually want to be?

Does spiritual aspiration make one 'religious' and spiritual apathy less so? (even though the outward form of religion may be present in both scenarios)


From a practical perspective, however, there are times when an assessment of a person's faith needs to be made. What would you do if you were on a mosque committee selecting a new Imam, evaluating a prospective spouse or choosing a prospective partner to enter into a new business venture. Is there anything you could do to help you in the process of evaluating faith?


I admit, it *does* sound very clinical but is there anyway that can be avoided if we really want to make an accurate assessment?

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #11 on: Mar 22, 2011 01:02 PM »

From a practical perspective, however, there are times when an assessment of a person's faith needs to be made. What would you do if you were on a mosque committee selecting a new Imam, evaluating a prospective spouse or choosing a prospective partner to enter into a new business venture. Is there anything you could do to help you in the process of evaluating faith?


I admit, it *does* sound very clinical but is there anyway that can be avoided if we really want to make an accurate assessment?


Aw mashaa'Allaah Smiley, you don't know that you've just touched upon something that I'm still trying to figure out for myself subhanAllaah Smiley, so I don't think I can really answer this.  Other than saying that yes I do agree that at times one needs to be wise and sensible in such matters like you've listed above. 

In regards to marriage though one is suppose to ask around to gain information from people, but say someone used to be a drunk a year ago but has since repented and changed their ways, so now it is as if they have never sinned, one isn't suppose to mention this about the person, because they no longer commit that sin and this would then be classified as ghibbah. Also, I have heard of some people giving certain roles to people one would never dream they should be given, simply because they see the potential in this person to change their ways and by doing so, the person has indeed amended their ways and become a better Muslim.

So yeah, sorry, still trying to figure out some of this Smiley.  I am sure these issues must have already been tackled by people more knowledgable than us, so maybe it's a case of delving deeper into the works of scholars.

I also think I may be understanding things differently but I haven't managed to quite grasp ahold yet of what this might be, whether I'm understanding faith and something else as separate things on some level for instance?? I don't know Smiley.

'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 27, 2011 07:42 AM »



From a practical perspective, however, there are times when an assessment of a person's faith needs to be made. What would you do if you were on a mosque committee selecting a new Imam, evaluating a prospective spouse or choosing a prospective partner to enter into a new business venture. Is there anything you could do to help you in the process of evaluating faith?


Yes, there's definitely something you could do.  You could perform salatul istikharah and ask Allah the All-Knowing to guide you to the right decision.  Many people overlook the deep spiritual acts that Allah has blessed us with as a means to finding a solution to our problems, in this case uncertainty.  The solution to uncertainty in regards to making a decision is istikhara which is definitely a HUGE blessing from Allah.  In many cases, people even receive their answer via a dream.  You just have to make sure you ask Allah sincerely and come before him as a humble servant.  He won't let you down. Trust me Smiley

Sa’ d ibn Waqas reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Istikharah (seeking guidance from Allah) is one of the distinct favors (of Allah) upon man, and a good fortune for the son of Adam is to be pleased with the judgment of Allah. And a misfortune of the son of Adam is his failure to make istikharah (seeking Allah’s guidance), and a misfortune for the son of Adam is his displeasure with the judgment of Allah.

(sorry i don't have the reference for the above hadith :\ )
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« Reply #13 on: Apr 13, 2011 10:49 AM »

I would simply answer,"Yes,I am a Muslim"...I had the Jahova's Witness come to the door a couple of Sundays before & when they said to me they wanted to talk to me about god,I politly declined & informed them I am Muslim.The look on their faces was a picture! Cheesy
I don't think they expected that from a 'western woman!'
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