Is it possible for man to live without a religion?

The Details of the Question

Is it possible for man to live without a religion?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The existence of irreligious people show that man can live without a religion. However, a community cannot live without religion as a whole.

It can be said that the feeling of religion, that is, the feeling of worshipping a transcendent being who has endless power over all beings exists in the nature of man. There is nobody who is not under the influence of this feeling. Therefore, those who do not find the true God find wrong gods. They start to worship the sun, moon, stars, stones, trees, etc. This is also a kind of religion.

“Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire? Allah has, knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart (and understanding), and put a cover on his sight. Who, then, will guide him after Allah (has withdrawn guidance)? Will ye not then receive admonition?” (al-Jasiya, 45/23) The verse above shows that the people with no religion take their own desires as their god like idolaters and the members of other wrong religions hence they have the religion of irreligiousness.

When man's life since his existence on the earth is viewed, it will be seen that he never lived without a religion. The studies of anthropology, psychology and sociology have proved this fact. No nation with absolutely no religion has been found in the studies of human history; when any race or community was studied, it was seen that there was a religion and the idea of a god though simple and wrong there.

Man, who has material and spiritual elements like the spirit and body, has struggled to maintain his material existence on the one hand, and worshipped the sun, the moon and stars in the sky, the fire, animals and some beings he regarded as holy on earth in order to satisfy his feeling of belief, which is his spiritual food, on the other hand. This absolute unity of faith seen in the people who were of different races, eras and countries and who did not know one another proves that the idea of religion is universal and belief in Allah is an inborn characteristic. (see Ay, Mehmet Emin, Çocuklarımıza Allah’ı Nasıl Anlatalım, p. 13-14, Timaş Publications, İstanbul, 1994)

The verse “To every people (was sent) a Messenger” (Yunus, 10/47) in the Quran points out that communities cannot live without religions and prophets. In addition, the Quranic verses narrating the quest of the creator by Hz. Ibrahim (Abraham) and finding Him (see 6/76-79; 21/58-67; 26/70-82) show clearly man's need of religion and that he can know Allah through the spiritual feelings in his nature.

Having probably seen that the feeling of religion is an indispensible characteristic, Plutarch, a Greek ethicist, states the following: “Travel throughout the world; you will find places without walls, literature, law and wealth but you will not be able to find places without temples and gods.” Accordingly, the need to be attached to a temple and god is seen as a common characteristics existing in the nature of man. (Mürsel, Safa,  Bediüzzaman Said Nursi ve Devlet Felsefesi, p. 90- 91, Yeni Asya Publications, İstanbul, 1980)

Attracting attention to the fact that communities cannot live without religion, Mehmet Akif Ersoy, the poet, expresses the necessity of religion socially in the following lines:

“Five or ten irreligious people appear in all communities.
It is normal but an irreligious nation is impossible.
The individuals of which nation has no feeling of religion?
Look at the biggest nations; their religion is stronger than anything.”
(Safahat (Third Book), Hakkın Sesleri, p. 258, 9 May 1329/1913)

As man looks at this nature and think, he will realize that he will not be able to live idly. Even the most irreligious people need to take refuge. For, man is weak; therefore, he needs to take refuge in a power that will protect him from endless enemies and meet his needs. Besides, he wants to satisfy the desire of eternity in his heart. The only one that can satisfy all of his needs is Allah, the Omnipotent.

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