Religion And Modern World, The Age Of Need

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Religion And Modern World, The Age Of Need Author:
Translator: Muhajir b. Ali
Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
Category: Ideological Concepts

Religion And Modern World, The Age Of Need

Author: Abu ’l-Fazl Sajedi
Translator: Muhajir b. Ali
Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

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Religion And Modern World, The Age Of Need
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Religion And Modern World, The Age Of Need

Religion And Modern World, The Age Of Need

Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

Religion And Modern World, The Age Of Need

Author (s): Abu ’l-Fazl Sajedi

Translator (s): Muhammad Mahdi Baqi

Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center

This text discusses the connection and correlation between Islam and the modern world. It proposes that the necessity of religion arises from the psychological, intellectual, individual, and social necessities of society and that only by implementing the Islamic way in our lives can many societal issues be understood and solved.


This version is published on behalf of

The composing errors are not corrected.

Table of Contents

Preface 8

Introduction 9

1. Western Religious Scholars’ Approach 10

Notes 11

2.The Approach Of Muslim Religious Scholars 12

2.1 The Social Need For Law 12

Farabi’s Exposition 12

Avicenna’s Exposition 13

‘Allama Tabataba’i’s Exposition 13

Evaluation 14

2.2 Knowing God Or Science, And Proceeding On The Path Toward God 16

Evaluation 16

2.3 Assignment Of Duties Leads To Human Perfection 16

Evaluation 17

2.4 Recognition Of The Path Toward Perfection 17

Evaluation 18

2.5 Select Exposition – Granting Insight And Incentive Toward Perfection 18

Man, The Multi-Dimensional Being 18

Capacity For Perfection 18

Desire To Achieve Perfection 19

Seek To Recognize The Path Toward Perfection 19

Possess Intellect And Free Choice 19

Possessor Of Contradictory Passions 20

Man’s Epistemic And Psychological Shortcomings On The Path To Guidance 20

Theology 20

Conclusion 20

Notes 21

3.Claiming The Adequacy Of Science And The Intellect 24

Evaluation 25

Shortcomings Of Science 26

The First Shortcoming 26

The Second Shortcoming 26

The Third Shortcoming 27

Shortcomings Of The Intellect 28

The First Shortcoming 28

The Second Shortcoming 29

The Third Shortcoming 30

Shortcomings Shared By Science And The Intellect 30

The First Shortcoming 31

The Second Shortcoming 31

The Third Shortcoming 33

The Fourth Shortcoming 33

Knowledge and intellect may reach conclusions concerning the perception of certain realities, but such attainment may take long. Through the process of trial and error and objective observation of applying different, and at times, contradictory intellectual methods, man may distinguish between right and wrong ways in order to attain 33

The Fifth Shortcoming 34

The Sixth Shortcoming 36

The Seventh Shortcoming 36

The Eighth Shortcoming 37

The Ninth Shortcoming 37

The Tenth Shortcoming 38

Limitations Of Collective Reason 38

Notes 41

4. Preventing Contingent Losses Is Another Argument Supporting The Necessity Of Religion 43

5. Dr. Soroush’s Claim: Modern Man Does Not Need Religion 45

Exposition Of The Theory 45

Description Or Judgment 47

Evaluation 48

The First Problem 48

The Second Problem 49

The Third Problem 50

Presenting A Specific Standard For Needlessness 51

Summary Of The Argument 52

Evaluation Of The First Premise 53

Evaluation Of The Second Premise 54

The First Problem 56

The Second Problem 56

The Third Problem 57

The Fourth Problem 58

Citation Of The Qur’anic Verses And Traditions 59

Evaluation 60

Axiomatic Teachings 61

Evaluation 62

Specific Emphasis On Western Countries’ Needlessness Of Religion 62

Notes 65

6. The West And The Damaging Consequences Of Extreme Scientism And Rationalism 67

Nihilism, Anxiety, And Loneliness 67

Mental Fatigue And The Feeling Of Spiritual And Moral Emptiness 68

Metamorphosis Of Man Into A Machine 71

Increase In Criminal Acts 72

Inability To Solve The Complications Of Modern Man 72

Notes 73

Appendix 76

1. The Ever-Increasing Religious Tendencies In The West 76

The General Public In The West 76

Religious Pretension For Winning Elections 81

The Twenty-First Century: The Decline Of Secularism 82

Western Scholars’ Ever-Increasing Religious Tendencies 83

2. Scholars’ Religious Tendencies At The Beginning Of The 20th Century 83

3. The Deadlock Of Excessive Scientism 84

4. Beginning Of The Collapse Of Sheer Materialism And The Increasing Efforts To Appreciate The Reality Of Religion 87

5. Confessions Of The 20th Century Standard-Bearer Of Atheism To The Existence Of God 88

Dissemination Of Islam In The West 89

Acknowledging The Flourishing Of Political Islam 89

The Holy Qur’an, The Number One Bestseller In The West 90

Recitation Of The Qur’an At The Sessions Of The European Union 90

Huntington’s Theory 90

Confessions Of An Archbishop 90

Obligatory Apologies For Expressing Offensive Remarks Against Islam 91

Recognition By Academics And The Social Elite 91

Specific Countries 92

The United States of America 92

American officers and privates in Iraq 93

An American female private at Imam Husayn’s holy shrine 94

Latin America 94

Canada 94

England 95

Britain 95

Denmark 95

Germany 96

France 96

Sweden 96

Hindus 97

Renaissance In Muslim Countries 97

Reasons For Converting To Islam As Stated By New Converts 97

The Impact Of Imam Khomeini’s Character 97

Spread Of Moral Evils, Homosexuality, And Domestic Problems 97

The 9/11 Catastrophe 98

Islam’s Deliberation, Moderation And Logicality 98

Islam’s Pacifism And Promotion Of Justice 98

Creating Physical And Psychological Comfort In Individuals, And Esprit And Vitality In Society 99

Religion For Life And Solution To All The Problems 99

Notes 99

Summary 104

Bibliography 106


The invaluable legacy of the Household [Ahl al-Bayt] of the Prophet (may peace be upon them all), as preserved by their followers, is a comprehensive school of thought that embraces all branches of Islamic knowledge. This school has produced many brilliant scholars who have drawn inspiration from this rich and pure resource.

It has provided the Muslim ummah with many scholars whom, following in the footsteps of Imams of the Prophet’s Household (‘a), have done their best to clear up the doubts raised by various creeds and currents within and without Muslim society and to answer their questions. Throughout the past centuries, they have given well-reasoned answers and clarifications concerning these questions and doubts.

To meet the responsibilities assigned to it, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly (ABWA) has embarked on a defense of the sanctity of the Islamic message and its varieties, often obscured by the partisans of various sects and creeds as well as by currents hostile to Islam. The Assembly follows in the footsteps of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and the disciples of their school of thought in its readiness to confront these challenges and tries to be on the frontline in consonance with the demands of every age.

The arguments contained in the works of the scholars belonging to the School of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are of unique significance. That is because they are based on genuine scholarship and appeal to reason, and avoid prejudice and bias. These arguments address scholars and thinkers in a manner that appeals to healthy minds and wholesome human nature.

To assist the seekers of truth, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly has endeavored to present a new phase of these arguments contained in the studies and translations of the works of contemporary Shi‘ah writers and those who have embraced this sublime school of thought through divine blessing.

The Assembly is also engaged in editing and publishing valuable works by leading Shi‛ah scholars of earlier ages to assist the seekers of the truth in discovering the truths which the School of the Prophet’s Household (‘a) has offered to the entire world.

The Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly looks forward to benefit from the opinions of the readers and their suggestions and constructive criticism in this area.

We also invite scholars, translators and other institutions to assist us in propagating the genuine Islamic teachings as preached by the Prophet Muhammad (S).

We beseech God, the Most High, to accept our humble efforts and to enable us to enhance them under the auspices of Imam al-Mahdi, His vicegerent on the earth (may Allah expedite his advent).

We express our gratitude to Mr Abu ’l-Fazl Sajedi author of the present book, and Mr. Muhammad Mahdi Baqi, its translators. We also thank our colleagues who have participated in producing this work, especially the staff of the Translation Office.

Cultural Affairs Department

The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly


In the present day, our youths need to know the answers to many such questions concerning the correlation between religion and the modern life as the following:

• What is the status of religion in the modern world?

• Can religion be regarded as significant, despite recent scientific progress?

• Does the intellect necessitate believing in and practicing a religion?

• Does advancement in science, as well as transformation in the spheres of culture and civilization, prove the needlessness of religion?

• What are the arguments presented by their proponents?

• How have the Western elite and the general public reacted towards the recent religious tendencies and refutations, particularly those concerning Islam?

The present book aims at finding answers to such questions. For the same purpose, it proceeds with an exposition of the concept of “the necessity of religion” and its relationship with similar concepts. The Western and Muslim thinkers’ approach in this regard and its distinctive features will then be explained.

Then follows a detailed exposition of the viewpoint of Muslim thinkers concerning the necessity of turning to religion, and the appointment of prophets to their Divine missions.

The main topics of this chapter include society’s need for laws; recognizing and treading the path towards God; the value of duty; and, recognizing the path leading to perfection. An evaluation of viewpoints and an exposition of select views precedes the suggestion of challenging the adequacy of the intellect and science in our age, and finally, Dr. Soroush’s claims concerning the admirable needlessness of religion and its evaluation will be presented.

What follows includes the damaging consequences of excessive reliance on science and the intellect in the West; the simultaneous global increase in religious tendencies, particularly, conversion to the Islamic faith in the West; an exposition of reasons for converting to Islam by the new converts. The last part includes the synopsis and message of this book.

The prevalent view among Western thinkers constitutes refutations of religious necessity by relying on science and the intellect, especially by some philosophers of materialism and extreme rationalism during the Renaissance and today. Consequently, a brief account of the Western thinkers’ approach toward religious necessity will be presented, and a more detailed discussion will be devoted to examine the adequacy of science and the intellect.

Abu ’l-Fazl Sajedi

1. Western Religious Scholars’ Approach

Various arguments have been presented to prove the logical necessity of returning to religion and adhering to it. It is different from concepts such as the various aspects of “religious need” often used in Western books on religious studies as a mundane need and function rather than having otherworldly consequences.

Even in this respect, what is meant at times, is merely an individual psychological need rather than the limitations of the human intellect (epistemic needs). But the necessity of religion denotes the necessity which arises from worldly and otherworldly needs, as well as its psychological, intellectual, individual, and social functions.

This necessity is closely related to “the necessity of the prophetic Divine missions,” since the most important argument mentioned as proof reveals a kind of shortcoming in human epistemic means. The same shortcoming necessitates turning to a more perfect means, and thus, the need for it.

The need for Divine revelation is a prerequisite for such prophetic missions and so, the former precedes the latter. Since man needs Divine revelation, it is necessary that God appoint prophets to serve as a medium of imparting it to man.

It is necessary to pay attention to the practical distinction between the necessity of religion and the need for it, despite the conceptual proximity between the two. This is because, many a time, Western scholars discuss “religious need,” by expounding it through sociological and psychological approaches and concentrate on its specific functions.

This began because of the transformation that took place in the religious approach of Western thinkers during the preceding centuries. Formerly, they devoted most of their discussions to theology, proving God’s existence, and the veracity of religious beliefs.1

Today, religious studies have substituted theology, and attention is being paid to the functions of religion and its psychological effects. For instance, Hick’s words are quoted in this regard: “There is a kind of transformation and substitution made in the term God as the key word in a series of terms concerning “religion”, since they are related to the same linguistic family.”2

Formerly, the existence of God, His attributes and the ends of His acts, were the topics of discussions and inquiries. “Nowadays, for instance, the same topics and questions are related to religion, its nature, forms and practical value.”3

In modern times, from an academic point of view, a discussion regarding God is presented as secondary in nature, an extended topic of religion. Other discussions concern the history of religion, its various forms, and its role in culture, assisting individuals to achieve internal accord and harmony and relate to the environment.

The usual question regarding God is the non-existence of God. No question concerning the existence of religion is raised, since it is obvious that religion exists. The main questions concern the consequences of religion in man’s life. Questions regarding religious truths have been marginalized and the center of attention is devoted to the practical advantage of such beliefs.4

Is seeking such substitutes for the concrete realities of religion natural in an age in which religion is on the decline?

Hick maintains that Stuart Mill and Bertrand Russell were not satisfied with the utilitarian method employed to prove the existence of God. They emphasized that the importance lay in proving the veracity and fallacy of the truths as admitted by believers.5

Such anti-religious trends, have been severely challenged in recent decades by deadlocks resulting from thoughts generated in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the trend of turning to religion has begun.

A number of issues, on the basis of which Western scholars justify turning to religion, concern individual and social functions. The former include: giving meaning to life; curing feelings of loneliness; admitting ethical, spiritual, and psychological emptiness; preventing man’s metamorphosis into a machine; organizing an individual’s life; and, solving existential dilemmas.

The latter include: creating unity and solidarity; controlling and checking social adverse effects and criminal acts resulting from weak faith.6 Western views concerning the functions of religion are presented in utilitarian terms, since most of the definitions presented in the field of religion are of this type.


1. For further information concerning the viewpoints of Western scholars in the field of religious studies regarding God, see H.P. Awn, Didgah-ha dar bare-ye khoda [“Viewpoints concerning God”], translated by Hamid Bakhshande.

2. John Hick, Philosophy of Religion, p. 91.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid. pp. 90-91.

5. Ibid. p. 92.

6. For instance, see: Jean Paul Wilhelm, Jame’e-shenasi-ye Adyan [“Sociology of Religions”], p. 168; Din-pazhuhi [“Religious Studies”], vol. 1, p. 359; Nicholas Abercrombie, Farhang-e Jame’e Shenasi [“Dictionary of Sociology”], translated by Hasan puya, p. 320.