Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"
4.7 The Religion Criteria
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Religion and Faith
The Holy Book
Now that we know that God Almighty exists, and that he creates humans, He communicates with His people to give them his message. God has done that by sending messengers to show them the right way that leads to paradise in the hereafter, and to warn them against the devilís way that leads to hellfire. Some of the messengers were local for a certain time and to certain people. Some had larger responsibility and left their people with Holy Books that would guide them after the Prophets died. These Holy Books are like an ownerís manual of cars or a userís manual of computerís software. If you follow the instructions, you will get the maximum benefit, but if you ignore the instruction and the proper way of usage, then you will have a lot of troubles. This is a valid principle that applies to cars, computers, or humans.
Religion and Faith
We mentioned in the introduction of this book, that you could realize the existence of God by examining His signs or by having intuitive faith. However, this faith should not be blind, but based upon reasonable judgment. The reason is that in this world we have seen hundreds of people making all sorts of claims. Many claimed that they were prophets, receiving revelation from God. Others claimed to be the expected Messiah that will come before the end of the world. Even pagan religions asked its followers to have faith. Scriptures are said to be inspired or revealed by God, and they are so many. And each preacher emphasizes the usual sentence: "you either have faith or not." If humans accept this argument blindly, there will be much confusion. Faith should be based upon a rational and sensible conclusion. Furthermore, it not enough for a religion to call for such terms as brotherhood, global peace, equality, mercy, etc, to be accepted. Religion is a serious business, and choosing the right religion requires some reasoning. Religion should be treated at least as any other decision that humans make every day. You should not rush to a conclusion, and at the same time you should not treat it as a long-term decision.
In the next section, an attempt will be made to present a set of criteria for accepting a religion based upon the following necessary and sufficient conditions:
Since we know that God is One, and we are all His people that came from a single father and mother, it follows that there must be one religion. This is because God is not going to change His rules to suit different nations. He measures all humanity with only One Standard. Therefore, the religion should be universal regardless of race, color, time, place, wealth, or gender.
This condition right away excludes Judaism unless we accept the notion that God has chosen the Jews and only the Jews to the rest of humanity for His religion. In this case, this contradicts one of Godís attributes, Justice. Jews do not have missionaries, and do not invite any one to join them. If someone wants to convert to Judaism, which is supposed to be a religion of God, he will have hard times. Often times, the media reports that the Jews in Israel reject the conversion of a teenager from a Jewish father. According to the Jewish law in Israel, the mother determines religion. Therefore, if someone manages to be converted by a Jewish organization outside Israel, the Jewish establishment in Israel will not recognize that conversion. Therefore, to follow a monotheistic religion, we are left with Christianity and Islam.
Throughout history, there existed a class of theologians and philosophers that claimed that they had knowledge about religion and God that the public could not understand. An example to such theology is the Gnostic Christian movement that flourished during the second and third centuries AD. Gnosticism presented a major challenge to orthodox Christianity. The term Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis ("revealed knowledge"). To its adherents, Gnosticism promised a secret knowledge of the divine dominion that the laymen would not comprehend. Therefore denying the public from comprehending the religion that they were supposed to believe in.
A religion by definition should be understood and practiced by all people regardless of their intellectual and educational capability. A religion should be for the illiterate as well as those with the highest degrees. There should not be any confusion or ambiguity in explaining the religion.
The Holy Scriptures should be unique and only the original version should be used. There should not be multiple versions that are revised and revised again by humans. If a translation of the original version exists, it should be accompanied by the original text in its original language. Human translation of Holy Books is never perfect. Translation of Holy Books is a serious business, because it involves the imperfect human perception of the translators.
Following the above condition of simplicity, a religion should be opened with all its aspects. The exact history should be presented. The evolution of doctrine, if any, should be known and accessible to the public. The honest preachers should not attempt to keep their congregation in the dark about any subject relating to the religion. It is nice for a religion to emphasize the good morals, but should this be the only criterion of accepting a religion? Preachers should state the whole truth, and not half the truth, about religions.
The scriptures of a religion should be authentic and traceable to its origin. All the records should not be adulterated or tainted with any Human ideas or perception. The original writer or writers of the scriptures should be known, and there should be sufficient evidences for the trustworthiness of the writers. The subject of authenticity should be very clear and definite without any confusion about who actually wrote the scriptures.
God revealed the Holy Books. One should not expect inconsistency or contradictions in the scriptures. There should not be any error or even a claim of error associated with Holy Books.
The character of the Prophet who received the revelation should be impeccable before the revelation. His life should be documented before and during the revelation to make sure that he was honest and truthful. He should not have bowed to anyone else but God.
The Holy Book
The Holy Book should have the following characteristics:
It should identify God in names and attributes.
It should show Humans the proper way of communicating with God.
It should convey a message that does not contradict human intuition and accepted morals.
It should guide humans to the right path for salvation that leads to paradise.
It should warn Humans against evil acts that lead to hellfire.
It should project a sense of purity and holiness.
It should outline the divine standard that humans should follow.
It should include overwhelming prophecies and scientific miracle as a continuous challenge to the unbelievers.
All the above conditions will be examined in the next chapters in an attempt to arrive at the religion of Allah.