The Purpose of Religious Practices
Now let’s consider a different perspective…
We have already established that man is comprised of a composition of divine names.
The make-up of man, the formation we refer to as a human, is a point of manifestation of the divine names in the form of a composition.
Some names are stronger than others, which form the temperament of the person and drive him to output certain actions.
The composition forms the person’s make-up, nature, temperament, conditioning, etc. Our habits, natural tendencies, character, are all the natural results of this composition.
When one lives completely subject to his composition, and outputs the actions that are automatically driven to be output by the composition, he will consequently go to hell.
This composition will create both his physical and psychological hell.
This being the case, what do you think the purpose of the recommendations of Islam, such as salat, fasting, pilgrimage, and paying alms is?
These practices drive you to do things that challenge your compositional make-up, for they comprise actions and behaviors that go against your programming!
Remember your composition creates your comfort zone, what serves your personal-bodily health, wealth and vested interests per se…
Salat, to begin with, is the biggest game changer. It directly forces you out of your comfort zone.
Just as you’re sitting comfortably with a friend, sipping your tea while deeply immersed in a chat, you have to stop that program and run another program; salat.
This program, on the contrary, enables you to develop and accumulate spiritual power. The power to use your will against the tendencies of your bodily desires, amongst others.
Fasting, on the other hand, directly extinguishes the fire of your bodily temptations. It totally stops and forbids the programs of your nature, even if temporarily.
The bodily nature, food, sexual activity, sleeping, and all bodily comforts are cut off for a while forcing you to overcome your natural tendencies.
Challenge against bodily temptations is also driven by certain names in your composition. By suppressing the activity of certain names you are allowing the activity of other names to become stronger, hence creating balance and reducing the fire of your temptations.
Pilgrimage, needless to say, is a huge challenge on its own!
Giving alms, means you go and give what you’ve earned through hard work and effort to someone else without any gain or profit in return.
As can be seen, just these simple actions play a big role in reducing the fire of bodily temptations on a big scale, they force you out of the comfort zone of your “nature” and help you gain faith and eternal bliss in the hereafter.
So, without engaging in these practices, you can’t make any changes in your composition. It’s impossible!
In other words, whether we have insight to the perspective of certain scholars and saints in the past or not, by simply observing the functioning of our composition, we can clearly see that:
Faith without action and practice serves no purpose!
This is the absolute plain truth that is also certified by the intimates of the reality.
Another important topic to consider is… prohibitions!
We already talked about the recommendations, salat, fasting, pilgrimage, alms, etc…
But there are also the prohibitions.
Is it possible to comply with all the prohibitions at once and if not, how will this affect ones faith?
You have a certain composition, which drives you to engage in certain activity that include the things that are prohibited.
So you are not asked to eliminate all forbidden activity from your life at once, because this is not possible.
You already have a composition that is formed. The whole point of the recommendations is to overcome this compositional make-up, which automatically moves you away from forbidden activity.
Hence, we are told:
“Indeed, salat will prevent one from indulging in ego-identity based tendencies and prohibited actions.”
Striving against your ego with salat will also ease the practice of other things, in time! It takes time to overcome and re-write the composition.
In other words, when one engages in prohibited sinful acts such as gambling, adultery or drinking alcohol, he does not become faithless, he is still considered a believer. He does not fall out of Islam.
He can repent!
Now on repentance…
One should repent as soon as he engages in a sinful activity, immediately after, with sincere remorse, he must admit that he was consumed by his ego, seek forgiveness and repent! Whatever the sin may be, one must regret what he has done and turn to Allah in repentance.
For when a servant commits a sin Allah waits for him to repent. If he doesn’t repent within a day after he has committed the sin, it is recorded as a sin. If he repents, Allah will forgive him for He forgives the sins of those who repent.
“Why should I repent when it’s an ongoing sinful activity that I can’t seem to give up!?”
One should still repent, as Allah may accept his repentance and protect him from committing that sin again.
The important thing is that you turn to Allah with the conscience that you are guilty.
No matter the size of your sin, never refrain from turning to Allah! It will eventually open the way to salvation.
No matter what your conditions are, always find a way to turn to Allah and never let anything hold u back from doing so!
But if you really don’t feel like turning to Allah, if you don’t have the want to, then know that you are in serious danger.
Islam is all about challenging your ego-identity and overcoming your habitual, compositional make-up!
It is about uniting the divine names and becoming moralize with the morals of Allah! This is the fundamental meaning and purpose of Islam.
Islam has come to complete and perfect morals.
What does it mean to perfect ones morals? It is to become moralized with the morals of Allah, which means eradicating the body-nature based behaviors. And this doesn’t happen instantly; it takes time.
Simply put, it is normal to fall short and make mistakes; this does not make you an unbeliever, but not fulfilling the requisites do!
Hence the Rasul of Allah (saw) says:
“If one has the means to go to pilgrimage but does not, and he dies within that year, he may die as a Jew or he may die as a Zoroastrian.”
Because it does not matter! He is considered to be an unbeliever! Not fulfilling the requisites automatically brings about disbelief! To not comply with the prohibitions is a sin driven by your body-nature, which you must neutralize with a good deed. This is a very sensitive and important topic and must be understood well!
To reiterate, general inadequacies, shortcomings and sinful behavior does not result in faithlessness, it only means you are a sinner.
But any inadequacy regarding the five pillars will take one outside of Islam. One may repent after committing a great sin. But not fulfilling the recommended practices is an implicit way of denying them! The automatic result of denying faith and Islam is unbelief.
Unbelief or “kufr” means “to cover” the truth!
A kafir is one who covers the reality.
Hence those who cover the truth that Muhammad (saw) brought: “There is no god, only Allah!” and live as though there is a deity-god outside somewhere, are called the coverers of the truth, i.e. unbelievers…