The Nine Roles of Religion in Our Lives

The true religion is the one that holds value over life, harmonizes with human nature, and is responsible for the guardianship over all aspects of human existence. The nine roles of religion in our lives are:

1- Fulfilling the human need for the absolute: This role can be summarized by saying that the human need for the absolute can only be secured through the true, valuable religion carried by the prophets throughout history and represented in the final message brought by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). All past schools of thought stand powerless before this human aspiration for the absolute. At best, they turn the relative and limited into an absolute, a desperate and unsuccessful attempt that fails to achieve the intended purpose.

2- The principle of general stewardship and honoring of humanity: Allah Almighty has honored humans by making them His stewards on Earth, and with this stewardship, they deserved that angels prostrate to them, and all the forces of the universe obey them. Allah Almighty says: (And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference) (Al-Isra/ 70). This internal sense of dignity is enough to elevate human behavior to match the honor of stewardship and preference over other creatures, so they do not give up this throne for their desires and whims. Imam Ali (AS) says: “He who knows his worth does not degrade it with the ephemeral.”

3- Trust and continuous internal monitoring: The meaning of trust (Indeed, we offered the Trust) is to plant a monitor inside the person who watches over their actions, traits, and behavior concerning the trust (the divine responsibility), and calls them to always do good by their duty. Trust is a covenant, and the covenant is responsibility. Allah Almighty says: (And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned) (Al-Isra/ 34). If this monitoring is not guaranteed, then it is fertile ground for righteousness, growth, and ascension towards the truth.

4- Religion achieves optimal guidance: The true religion uniquely has the ability to lead humanity to the shores of peace and security. Guidance is the guaranteed means to achieve the desired outcome. Allah Almighty says: (So is one who guides to the truth more worthy to be followed, or one who does not guide unless he is guided? What is [wrong] with you? How do you judge?) (Yunus/ 35).

5- Religion ensures continuous monitoring of the witnesses: The prophets and their infallible successors, after the task of divine guidance, undertake the task of monitoring and testifying over the people of their communities with divine authorization. This is a special stewardship where the steward has the duty of monitoring his nation. Allah Almighty says: (On the day We will call forth every people with their record [of deeds]) (Al-Anbiya/ 73).

6- Religion provides a life model: The prophets, their successors, and all who call with their message also do so with kindness, playing a pioneering, educational, and purifying role that ensures those who follow in their footsteps a safe journey and a correct path. Allah Almighty says: (Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example) (Al-An’am/90), and He also says: (Indeed in the messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow) (Al-Ahzab/21), especially since the human need for an ideal and a good example is a fundamental one.

7- Religion achieves eternal life: This substitution of the transient (this world) for the everlasting (the hereafter) can only be done by the true religion, and hence belief in the resurrection is a fundamental pillar in Islamic law.

8- Religion achieves a sense of happiness: The prevailing belief among most of the world’s people is that there is a savior who appears when things become complicated, the ordeal intensifies, and injustice is applied. This is what religions have promised, to have a promised day on Earth where the messages of heaven are realized in their grand meaning and ultimate goal, where the worn path of humanity throughout history finds its stability and peace, all contradictions are resolved, and harmony and peace prevail. It is a pivotal day that renews hope that the path of humanity is heading towards ascension; in addition to this belief being not just a source of solace and comfort but also a source of giving, strength, and inexhaustible drive, for it is the ray of light that resists despair in the human soul.

9- Religion links worship to life and dissolves selfishness: The system of worship addresses a constant need in human life, and a fixed form of treatment assumes that the need is constant. The role that worship plays in satisfying basic needs can be summarized as follows:

a) The need to connect with the absolute (which has been previously mentioned).

 b) The need for objectivity in intent and transcending the self (which has also been previously mentioned regarding religion’s ability to shift human’s narrow personal interests to higher humanitarian interests, whether through cooperation, sacrifice, benevolence, or defending the rights of the oppressed, etc.).

c) The need for an internal sense of responsibility as a guarantee for implementation (which has been previously mentioned that the internal sense of responsibility (conscience) needs to be realistic, practical, and alive through belief in absolute monitoring that nothing escapes its work, and through practical training that grows this sense of comprehensive surveillance).

With this holistic theory of religion, it becomes clear that its place in our lives is not a peripheral luxury or an abstract theoretical belief, but rather it forms the core of our lives, and the certain guarantee to reach a better, more noble, and richer life. Humans can do without many things, but we find in human history no one could do without their fundamental need for religion, despite all the negative attitudes towards religion not as a divine, wise, and precise system of life, but as a result of aversion to its bad exploitative practices.

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