Religion and Me


Religion is a topic that can bring people so close to form unusually strong bonds and could, as well, result in hatred and animosity beyond limits.  So, writing this column is like stepping into a mine field…  With that in mind, let me “step in”.


Looking at the greatness of the universe around us and the precision in which it functions as well as the magnificence of the human machine and brilliance of its unique functionalities and skills is a sign for me that this vast system is not an accident or a fairytale story.  It is much more serious than we can ever imagine…


I believe I am here on this earth for a serious function.  This universe did not just ‘happen’ and my role as a human is not a trivial one.  To me, this is where religion comes in; providing a base to relate to “the purpose of life and our purpose in life.”


So, what can I tell you about religion that you don’t already know?  Isn’t it amazing that when it comes to religion, we are all scholars… Even those who make the claim that they don’t have a religion or not religious, have a religion and are religious…  The fact is that each one of us believes in a system of “values” that influences his/her own life.


In searching published definitions of religion, I came across “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor (vigor/zeal) and faith”, and “a pursuit or interest followed with devotion”.  The term comes from the Latin word religio ‘obligation, reverence’.  Searching my mother tongue of Arabic, the word is “deen” with the root word of “dana” which means, (guess what?) debt/obligation /commitment.


Hence religion implies obligations… call it worship, call it belief, call it commitment… it is an obligation where we commit ourselves to something, someone, some entity, some ideology, that we end up enslaved to, driven by, or overwhelmed with.  It is what we choose to submit to and follow “religiously”.


Thus, we all have religions and we are all religious, and each one of us has his/her own either custom or customized religions.  Some of us claim that they did not customize their religions but rather have the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) religion.  However, the majority can’t deny that they deviate to some extent from the brand they label themselves with.


So, it looks like religion is an inseparable component of our lives…  It influences how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves… 24/7 you are who you are and you are your religion, OEM, customized, or custom made; and there is no way we can ignore the role our religions play in our relationships with each other, with other creations, and with the environment around us.


Now, back to “the purpose of life and our purpose in life.”  I believe these two related questions are (or should be) the biggest challenge for us humans.  To me, they are…! Trivializing this investigation is escaping reality and burying one’s head in the sand.  Those among us who take this question seriously are in constant search for the truth.  With our finite, yet “infinitesimal” knowledge, we are but a tiny product that will never comprehend its grand and majestic maker.  However, we continue the search, some more diligently than others.  Some would suffice with popular answers and some would dig deeper than others.


Back to me again… the greatness of the universe around us and the magnificence of the human machine are signs for me that there is a Creator/Maker Who has made everything with built-in features that would enable it to function according to specs (designer’s specifications)… A Creator Who is Unlimited in wisdom and unlimited in Power and has the Complete Knowledge… Who has perfected his creation and loves every part of it… and Who is in charge and is constantly maintaining and caring of his universe… A Creator Who has entrusted us humans with uniqueness in our ability to choose, to think, to love, to enjoy life, and to be able to balance all that. A Creator to Whom I am accountable for what I was entrusted with.  A Creator Who Deserves for me to constantly recognize and seek.  Only through this Creator would I be able to relate to “the purpose of life and my purpose in life.”


For me as human being, I was born with a basic nature/instinct (my original OEM) that was influenced by the parents who raised me, the society I lived in, and the many experiences I went through.  That is how we get customized.  Some would reach a point in their lives where they go through a major overhaul (not necessarily positive) and change all or most of the OEM parts, ignore the manufacturer, the manufacturer specs, and all the warning labels, and replace it with custom parts.  That is not me, I hope…!!!