Home » Columns » Decline in religious belief?

Decline in religious belief?

Publishing Date : 29 October, 2019


In a very recent article in this column asked the question; ‘Are You a Believer?’ this was because there appears to be a worldwide decline in moral behaviour and the manner in which people lead and live their lives.  

Unfortunately in this day and age mankind because of its ‘enlightened knowledge which at times leads to ignorance’ has degenerated, degraded and sunk to such a low moral point that there are some doubting Thomas’ who are asking if religion still has relevance or a place in this new world that we live in. Nowadays some people hold the view and think that religion is outmoded and antiquated, literally ‘old fashioned’.  Without doubt there appears to be a ‘religious and moral vacuum’ in our societies.

Every major religion has its fair share of those who have a nonchalant and indifferent attitude and take religion in jest and brush it aside, forgetting that one day we all have to die and will be called to account for our actions and unbelief. ‘……as to those who reject faith, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe’. (Quran 2:6)

Regrettably many of us are hypnotized and mesmerized by the achievements of this fast changing world in science, technology and materialism and it is evident that there are some in this ‘educated’ society of ours who are facing, shall I say ‘A moral and religious crises’ because of an erosion of religious belief leading to a loss in moral values.

In Islam the Almighty Allah declares in the Holy Qur’an: “O mankind, worship your Lord who has created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.  It is He who has made the earth a resting-place for you and the sky a canopy, and has sent down water from the sky and thereby brought forth fruits for your sustenance.  Do not, then, claim that there is any power that could rival God, when you know.” (Quran 2: 21-22)

In this verse is the basic commandment of the Holy Quran, The Almighty speaks of the futility of worshipping others besides Him.  He addresses humanity to direct all acts of worship to Him alone. He is their Creator, Lord and overseer. Allah is the One who created us into being out of nothingness, giving us life in this world.

As humans we have been blessed with the power of reason and thought which distinguishes us from animals; thus many societies have grown up with moral values and a traditional upbringing that is people centred and corresponds with their religious beliefs. Regrettably  in our haste to become modernized and dare I say ‘westernized’ we have become so obsessed with this material world and its trappings that our religious beliefs, teachings and our morality has, literally been put aside.

We have separated and compartmentalized our daily lives away from our faith and it has become increasingly difficult to live by our religious and moral values. ‘Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that what they deny the revelation which God has sent down…and humiliating is the punishment of those who reject faith’ (Quran 2:90)

There is a vacuum in our societies because we seem to have lost our moral values somewhere along the line. The world is full of evil, violence, strife, war, poverty, immorality, broken homes, abuse of women and children, rape, adultery, alcoholism and drug/ substance abuse, self-proclaimed ‘prophets’ of dubious credentials and the other evils so common in our society today.

‘As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help’ (Quran 3: 56). ‘Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls) – (Quran 13:11)
Religion is not only based on a set of rituals and performing certain duties, but it is an all-embracing system that Muslims take as a way of life. It means that our intentions, deeds and actions must be based on firm belief, good intentions and the constant mindfulness that the Almighty Lord is ever-present. For this we are promised and ‘Heavenly Kingdom’ in the Hereafter.

‘Allah has promised to the believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of Allah’ (Quran 9; 72). and; ‘Give glad tidings to the believers who work deeds of righteousness, they shall have a magnificent reward.’ (Quran 17; 9)

Muslims are to offer five times daily prayers but some of us mistakenly think that our regular attendance of the once a week Friday (Jummah) prayers is sufficient to fulfil our obligation and duty as a good Muslim - let alone live by the other injunctions and instructions of the Quran. It seems that across the broad religious spectrum be it Muslim or Christian, we have the weak in faith and belief who believe that their once a week or even less attendance is obligation enough to their Creator. While some people wonder how we can go to the mosque or even pray at home five times a day.

As previously covered the time for compulsory prayers are as follows; just before sunrise (Fajar), lunch time (Zohar); late afternoon around 5 pm (Asr); as the sun sets (maghrieb); and around 8pm (eesha). Think about it: at sunrise to thank the Almighty for another day in this world; the lunch time one to remember the Almighty during our daily work chores; the late afternoon as we ‘leave’ work to go back home; the sun set prayer at the end of the day – in Islam the day ends and the new day begins at sunset; unlike the timing of the world calendar where the new day starts at midnight. Finally the night time prayer when we begin to ‘shut down’ the day and getting ready to sleep and hopefully wake up to perform the early morning prayers.

It is very simple the compulsory (faraz) prayers take on an average five minutes each – that means roughly half an hour a day to perform the 5 times daily prayers. If we cannot give the Almighty Allah half an hour from our daily 24 hours we need to introspect. I was chatting with a friend of mine (who is a Christian) who asked me if it was true that we offer our prayers five times a day, when I confirmed it he expressed surprise, then in his own unique style of mischievous sense of humour he said ‘that’s nothing some of my mates go to church three times’; thereafter bursting into laughter he said, ‘first, upon their baptism, then, when they get married and finally for the funeral service when they die’.

This world is but a passing phase we therefore have to change our lifestyles and bring God back into our lives, failure to do so will bring us eternal damnation ....’and if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear them no fruit in this life and the Hereafter; they will be the companions of the fire and will abide therein’. (Quran 2:217).

It is the duty of a believer to make every effort to guide people to the right path by reminding them of their duty to their Creator; by spreading the ‘good word’ but more especially leading by example. We should remove the new ‘false gods’ that this life is imposing upon us.