History reveals human being’s existence on the earth to be rated back to thousands and thousands of years and throughout their subsistence human beings have held on to the belief that there exists an unseen power Who controls the affairs of the universe. For a person of sound mind it would seem extremely illogical to deny the existence of a supreme power with all the wonders of nature evident to him. Be it be sun, moon, day, night, rain, ice, mountains and everything else is a part of the chain that leads to the sole Cherisher and Controller of the Universe, God. A religion is a set of beliefs and practices of a community that holds them in the obedience of codified beliefs, believed to be the orders from God, and rituals. It refers to both the personal practices and the rituals carried out by a group to reflect conformity of beliefs and obedience to the Supreme Controller. Various definitions for religion have evolved and many materialistic individuals have tried to push the religion to a separate sector of life only restricting it to the compulsory acts of worship and rituals but, religion is in no way different from one’s actions outside his/her place of worship. A number of religions and its followers, especially Islam, teach their disciples to spend their entire life whether in Masjid (Muslims place of worship) or outside according to the commands of God and stress on the fact that religion is at the heart of life.
Whichever religion a person belongs to is evident from his daily routine, doctrines of a particular religion are revealed by the rituals and the actions one performs in his daily life. A Christian would go to a church every Sunday, a Muslim would visit his Masjid five times a day and similarly a Hindu would visit his Temple at prescribed times.
Hence it is important to understand initially that a human being's religious life pivots on the rituals that ultimately reflect his/her beliefs.
Islam has been the most controversial religion in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks on the twin towers, but ironically enough since then it has been the fastest spreading religion throughout the world and especially in the West. Due to this astounding fact Islamic doctrines have been used in the context of the following discussion.
Implications of Personal Beliefs in Religion
Belief in the religious context is the faith in the existence of something supernatural, unseen and unexplainable for an ordinary mind. Conviction is thus the first step and the most basic requirement of any religion. To strongly believe the truth of the existence of God, the fundamental principles of a religion, the Holy Book and the honesty of the Religious Leader who brought the divine message is the doorway towards successfully understanding a religion.
In the absence of a firm belief, religious understanding may not achieved as one would then go on to doubt the reality and rationality of the principles that comprise a doctrine. For e.g. If a person decides to enter the fold of Islam he/she has to proclaim that, "There is no God, but Allah and Muhammad (PBUH) is his servant and messenger". This is the foremost obligation. Apart from this belief in the existence of Angels as Allah's Servants, the truth of all previous Messengers including Prophet Moses (PBUH) and Prophet Jesus (PBUH) and the reality of Life after Death is also necessary. A compromise on any of the stated beliefs would render a person Non-Muslim. Similarly for any other religion a grip on the belief which is universal for all its followers is the primary requisite.
It is the common fundamental belief that holds a community together and develops shared social, communal and cultural values that ultimately lead to specific actions and rituals that comprise their identity.
In order to understand a religion it is extremely important to first recognize the importance of the founding principles on which a religious conviction stands and this is what leads to the experiences that further strengthen the faith.