Man is Religious by Birth

Religion does not only give man the things that community life really needs like unity, cooperation, fraternity, patriotism, love of one’s flag, loyalty to one’s country but also meets an indispensable need of individual life.

Today, the analysis of some sociologists and psychologists have put forward that man gets hungry and eats something; getting hungry is something natural. He puts on clothes to protect himself from cold. He needs to reproduce. Similarly, one of the indispensable needs of man is religion. 

Man is religious by nature. I want to use the term religionly not religious in order to express the natural religiousness. There are some people who feel to be far away from religion. When we say religious, we understand a person who is the member of a religion and who practices that religion sincerely. This is what religion means. A religious person is someone who practices the requirements of his belief. When we say religionly, we mean something else: natural religiousness. A person who does not regard himself as religious may be hostile to all heavenly religions; however, we say that even such a person is religionly; he cannot be freed from natural religiousness.

I needed to find a new word in order to express that state. I find it appropriate to express that concept using the word “religionly”. Indeed, man is a religionly being. He cannot help being religious.

We see that religiousness or religions are based on some fundamental principles as a result of the analyses made today. For instance, there exists the feeling of “holy”. Some days and some hours are holy; they are not extended. Some places are holy. All places do not have the same value. We divide places time and things; we differentiate one from the other in terms of value; that is, we attach holiness to some, we give some of them special importance.

People and things... They do not have the same value. Then, the foundation of religion is based a kind of “holy” spirit. That kind of an analysis about religions is called “structural analysis”. Structuralism means analyzing events in every field in accordance with their fundamental structures. 

Now, let us analyze someone who is away from religion in terms of his spiritual and personal life. We will see that his spiritual life is no different from that of a religious person. As a Muslim, I regard the Kaaba and Makkah as holy. As a religious person, I have the feeling of differentiating some places from others. However, I say ‘who does not have such a feeling?’ 

Even a person who is known to be extremely irreligious has the feeling of holy places. To him, the place he was born is holy; the place where his beloved lives or died is holy. That is, in his life, there certainly exists the feeling of holy places like a religious person.

For instance, people living today say “Mothers’ Day”. They regard that day as holy. They say “Fathers’ Day”, “birthday” and regard them as holy. They attribute holiness to some part of time.

The same thing exists in the legends of first men. In the legends, there are some days; certain things are regarded to have been created or to have happened on those days; they are regarded as holy and various ceremonies are held on those days. For instance, the birthdays of legendary heroes, the day when creation took place, etc are regarded as holy. When we analyze religions acting upon from this point of view, we find common principles in every religion and see some religious manifestations in the lives of all kinds of people, whether they are religious, laic or irreligious. Even the most irreligious person cannot remain outside the manifestations of religionly nature. 

We can prove it by asking a question like this: Does an extreme communist who regards religion as opium of the people not visit the grave of Karl Marx, celebrate his birthday, perform some actions in front of his sculpture or mausoleum, regard the book Das Kapital superior to all books?

That is, God Almighty, who created us, created us in need of religion and gave us a religious system in compatible with our nature. Nobody is freed from this natural need. Then, people who say they are laic or they do not believe in religion will attribute holiness to time, places and things due to the natural inclination of making time and places holy. 

Master Hamidullah narrated once : A Russian girl became a Muslim and went to Paris. Master Hamidullah asked her: “How did you become a Muslim?” The girl answered that she was in the Red Square in Moscow during a ceremony that a policeman did not like her posture and told her that she should stand respectfully. She answered, “Respect is a spiritual value. Does it exist in communism?”  

Then, the policeman beat her twice with his baton. Upon the hit by the baton, the girl started to think and fled to France; then, she found out about Islam there and became a Muslim.

Consequently, we can say that religion is meeting a natural need.

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