Show Your Religion
by Robert Salaam
We live in a world that is dominated by those who believe in a deity of some form or another. The Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) alone account for the largest share of humanity that believes in a Supreme Being. However, along with this common concept of belief comes the inevitable differences between religions and even within religious communities. These differences alone account for much of the violence and indifference toward humanity today. History bears witness that some of mankind’s greatest atrocities and horrors have been committed by those who say “I believe”. The question of what these individuals, groups, sects, and entire religions believe can often be answered and summarized in a paragraph or two. One need not look further than official websites, Goggle, Wikipedia, etc. for examples of these declarations.
However, the most interesting thing to me is how universal the messages are. Most if not all of the worlds religions especially those of the Abrahamic faith proudly boast and declare that their religion promotes peace. Which is very interesting when one looks at the current state of humanity today. One should not be surprised when atheists or other non-believers mock those of us who believe as those who believe in fairy tales especially when one looks at the results of our beliefs.
It is my firm belief that a great majority of us are hypocrites. We pronounce one thing with our lips, but our actions show something entirely different. If we were sincere in our beliefs collectively regardless of spiritual tradition, then how do we account for the decline of humanity in our world. Surely the easy thing would be to blame others and maybe even blame Satan, but that is a weak position for a believer to take. First of all, believers are supposed to produce change in their environment not the other way around. Secondly, while the Satan may be able to whisper or suggest sin, it still takes the power of choice for us to engage in it.
So what is it that we are doing? We hear terms like “Christian Nation”, “Muslim World”, or “Jewish State” yet are we seriously willing to call any of the countries in which these terms are attributed these names sincerely? Which country on Earth would Jesus (as) readily claim represents his teachings, instruction, and will? Which country on Earth would Moses (as) readily claim represents his clear instruction and adherence to the Law? Which country on Earth would Muhammad (saw) readily claim represents his example, guidance, and recitation?
Yet we cling to these terms and slander the servants and messengers of God, peace and blessings be upon all of them, when we dare attribute these countries and nations with their righteous examples.
It is pure arrogance on our part to do so and great hypocrisy when we claim that which we are not actually doing.
However, those of us who proudly proclaim that ours is the right guidance or the true religion, sit back and do nothing to produce examples of that which we profess where it really counts. We have not the courage or strength of character to do whatever it takes to realize these teachings and guidance universally.
We love to point the finger at one another, we love to claim how much better we are than others, but while we talk humanity suffers. While we build ornaments to commemorate our arrogance, the least of the people, the poor, the orphan, the wayfarer, suffer. Who are we that we will readily claim adherence to the guidance of God and given through His servants, yet not vigorously fight to realize what He has given us?
Why do we spend so much time trifling over one another’s experience looking for new and ingenious ways to discredit that which many hold so dear?
I humbly submit that we become the people of God we so eagerly claim to be by producing ACTIONS that magnify and testify to our claims.
Let’s not just be a people who talk, but be a people who do.
Certainly, each group, sect, religion, etc. that theirs is the correct path. The fallibility of our flesh bears witness to our need to feel more important than the next human being in the sight of God. We fill the internet, libraries, and lecture halls with volumes of articles, literature, and debate on this very topic. We love to determine ourselves who is or is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim enough. It’s almost our most favorite and profitable pastime and hobby.
While this has as history of providing nothing but ill will and violence amongst mankind, it also has the history of providing much needed dialogue amongst groups, which is fine. Personally, I don’t feel that there is nothing particularly wrong with claiming to adhere to the right guidance, would we be who we were if we did not have that belief?
But wouldn’t it be a great and wonderful thing if the people of religion, actually showed us why they have the right guidance?
I don’t claim to be an expert, but I feel pretty certain that the messengers of God (pbut) did not intend for our examples of their just guidance to be that which we see today. Every type of excess, cruelty, and sin is exhibited daily in the lands in which these servants of God walked and in those lands that claim to have heard the message. From the church to the mosque and to the synagogue they all stand as stale monuments and edifices that produce good feelings within and pitiful results outside.
We should be angry and outraged at ourselves when even in the lands that we call holy violence, injustice, and evil are the law of the land. Women, children, the elderly, the destitute, the different, and the other, can not seek shelter, aid, or comfort in the places where the “believers” reside. What should the non-believers believe with such shining examples of our supposed hearing the message? Why would they want to seek out the truth we boastfully proclaim we alone have?
If our actions don’t produce that which we profess then can one really be counted amongst those who believe? If we accept a world in which peace is nothing but a dream, where the free exercise and God given right to the pursuit of happiness is only available to a privileged few but denied to the masses, can we truly be labeled as a believer?
Who are we, that we will take the name of our Greatest God in vain to make ourselves look and sound good?
I humbly ask those among the believers to show your religion. The world has heard enough words already. What humanity needs now is the ACTIONS of the believers. What we need to see is not how much the adherents can tear down physically and emotionally, but how much the adherents can build. Or are we too ignorant to understand that evil is best fought against with that which is better? Do we claim to know more than God?
To my dear Muslim Ummah, we are supposed to be the best example for mankind, ours is supposed to be a place of security and peace for all of humanity, but how many of us are willing to state this is the case? If this is not so, then is it not our duty to ensure that it becomes the reality? Have we truly become that which we claim to be the worst of creation, due to our inability to follow the criterion revealed to us? If our religion is what we profess, then there should be no doubt in the minds of mankind, as our actions should reflect that which we affirm Islam to be. Our inaction and unwillingness to do so makes us nothing more than cowards and unworthy to have the mercy of Allah (swt) and He it would be just if we were replaced with another people as were the communities who came before us.
To my dear Christian brethren, how can many extol the Good News of the Christ (as), yet allow a world to exist in which his very enemies are allowed to prosper? The moneychangers, the rich and powerful rule and dominate with their feet on the neck of the least of the people, while many of you idly watch and do nothing. Jesus (as) the One foretold who would usher the kingdom of God and who called the peacemakers the beloved of God would never side with a politic, agenda, or indoctrination that called for the destruction of others because of their differences, or would encourage the turning away of the downtrodden.
To my dear Jewish brothers and sisters, you have been the beloved of God. He has sent messenger after messenger to you and have blessed you tremendously with guidance. However, does that guidance make you any more or less superior than any other people? Does your blessing mean that you are not to take part in the universal brotherhood of all mankind? The essence of the law is not that one should be identified by rigorous adherence to ritual, but one realize that the Mercy of God in our submitting to His Will. His Will and Mercy extends to all, the Earth is the Lords and the Fullness thereof, as active participants in the world that belongs solely to Him, we must remember to not value His land over the lives and justice of His people. We would all be wise to remember this.
I pray for a day when the Children of Abraham (as) can be forces of action that produce change for all people. I pray for a day when our actions reflect our words and the messages that we claim to adhere to. I pray for a day when God’s Word will reign Supreme and our arrogance will fade in His Glory.