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Is Islam our Deen, or merely our religion?


Although our life is one entity with many facets, people tend to look at each facet differently and divide life into different segments. Segmentation is done variously: individual and collective; private and public; religious and secular; work and fun; etc. Each segment is lived by different rules and values, derived from different sources and authorities. The way a life or a segment of life is lived and the rules and values by which it is lived collectively is called ‘deen’. Thus people who live different segments of their life by different sets of philosophies (deens) are essentially living by a hodgepodge of deens.

The most significant and well-pronounced segmentation occurs through differentiation between religious and secular. Religion is usually considered to be a set of beliefs and rituals performed to find favour with a believed deity. It is treated as a private aspect of life which should not have anything to do with the rest of life. It is considered to be an area where logic, reason or intellect do not have much of a role. It is supposed to be followed blindly. Anything beyond private belief and ritual practices is secular. Religion is not supposed to have any direct relevance to or influence over the secular part of the life. It is especially excluded, rather banned, from the collective and public segments of life. Economic, political, educational and legal systems are supposed to have nothing to do with religion. Both sciences and arts are at odds with it. Religion is considered anti-science because of its blind-faith approach, and illogical and irrational ideas. The arts simply cannot stand the restrictions placed by religious values.

This segregation has practically become universal. Almost all non-Muslims -- regardless of their religion: Agnostics, Atheists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees, Bahai’s, etc. – follow this paradigm. They have their beliefs and then they have all different deens they follow in various segments of life.

People, ignorant of the reality of Islam, often view Islam from the same mindset and expect it to conform to the same paradigm.

The fact is that Islam is not a religion, as a religion is generally understood. It is a Deen – a way of life. Rather, it is the Deen because it is a complete way of life and the only deen to be so. It treats life as it is: one entity. Every facet of life: individual and collective; private and public; religious and secular; work and fun; etc. is and must be governed by it. No aspect of life can be excluded from it. Being from the Creator of life, it provides ultimately wise and true guidance in all areas of life. This is the only deen or way of life that Allaah SWT likes people to follow. The Holy Qur-aan declares:
Verily, the only valid Deen, before Allaah, is Islam. Aali-Imraan 3:19

From this perspective, every aspect of the life of a Muslim must be lived according to the Deen of Islam. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Muslims of today. Under the dominating influence of powerful societies, we have consciously or unconsciously adopted their thinking. We have reduced Islam to the concept of a manmade religion. If, at certain times of the day, we don a cap, fold our trousers up from the hem, and perform some mechanical functions of going up and down while parroting a few phrases, we assume that we have practiced Islam. The rest of our life is spent according to other deens. In the economic arena, we may believe in the deen of Capitalism or Socialism. In the political segment, Muslims societies have adopted either pagan practices of kingship, a fascist deen of dictatorships or the western concept of elitocracy (governed by wealthy-elite in capitalist society and party-elite in socialist society). In social living, Muslims have been adopting every western ideology propagated by the media, promoted by the UN or demonstrated by their TV programs, without any compunction or second thought. Most of our life events are conducted either according to Western culture or Hindu culture. Even Halloween rites, Valentine day celebrations and Christmas decorations are becoming commonplace in Muslim societies. These are just a few minor symptoms of the slavish mentality that Muslims have adopted. It does not even occur to us that we are following the footsteps of Shaytaan. Hardly anyone realizes the gravity of the situation. If we look at the lifestyle of the majority of Muslims, one will hardly notice any difference between their lifestyle and that of any non-Muslim – except for a few rituals of religion. This is despite a clear statement from Allaah that:
Whoever seeks an unislamic way of life, it will not be accepted from him. And he will be a loser in the Hereafter. Aali-Imraan 3:85

And that:
They were not commanded but to serve Allaah submissively, dedicating the deen exclusively to Him, in an upright, sincere manner. Al-Bayyinah 98:5
O Believers! Enter into Islam totally and wholeheartedly, and do not follow the footsteps of Shaytaan. Verily, he is your evident enemy. Al-Baqarah 2:208

Is it not the time that we pay heed to these commandments, seriously and keenly re-examine our lifestyles and conform to the Islamic model practiced by the Messenger of Allaah by making changes to every aspect, facet or segment of our life where we notice any deviation from his model?

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You are here: Home Reflections Paradigms & Attitudes Is Islam our Deen, or merely our religion?