Tribune: A Window To The World of Religion

THERE are so many religions in our world today such that what people now do is contrary to the dictates of their faith. What the word “religion” exactly means has become lost to the contradictions in the actions of its adherents. In other words, there is so much assumption about religion today that beard can be seen to represent Islam, even at a time the person with the biggest and longest beard in University of Ibadan a couple years ago was one Dr Deji Fatoba, whose belief was unbelief (on page 9 of this book is the picture of, among others, Charles Darwin, the popular Western atheist/materialist philosopher. There he is with a beard which is thick and long as that of Khomeini before he died.

This book is saying how we appear does not completely tell our stories. The atheist says once you believe in yourself, you cannot believe in any other thing again.

Today, there is so much conflation about religion and the religionists such that people now think that by sitting in a church one can become a Christian and that by sitting in a mosque one can become a Muslim. If these were to be true, then whoever sits in a garage can become a car, whoever sits in a mechanic workshop can become a motorcycle or a trailer.

This book is highly useful in calling our attention to the fact that what we claim we believe in may actually be different from what we should believe.

This book, which contains 175 pages, informs us that there is nothing less than 10,000 religions in the world out of which only five are adhered to by 84 per cent of the world’s population. This book is useful in this direction – that whereas 84 per cent of the world’s population are believers, 16 per cent are what I once referred to as disbelieving believers; 16 per cent of the world’s population attend the cathedral of the faithless, in which Shaytan is the priest, greed is the time keeper, excessive pursuit of material wealth, their daily devotion.

Thus, the content of this book is conceived in the womb of time to remind us of their faith; of what they ‘believe’. If you desire to know about agnosticism and atheism, pick this book. This book argues that an agnostic person is different from an atheist. The first holds that it is impossible to know anything about God, the second, the atheist, holds that there is no entity known as God anywhere.

This book is meant for those who desire to know about such religions as Zoroastrianism, Hinduism (the second oldest religion of modern humanity), Sikhism and paganism. The paganistic creed uses aniconic representations of body parts, animals and other statues or items as symbols of the deity. If you are a pagan worshipper, you cannot believe in the Almighty.

This book is useful because of its patronage of other far eastern beliefs’ such as Shintoism and Confucianism, particularly at a time the world is confused by the violent rhetoric of the roguish nuclear rogue in North Korea and senile dotard in United States of America.

This book is useful for it reminds us of what we believe we already know; it reminds us of Judaism, of Christianity and its many ‘houses’ and branches; it reminds us all of what we Muslims believe we believe in – i.e. Islam.

Who is this book written for? It is written for those who can read, for those who would read and for those who would not read. It is written for scholars of religious studies and for non-scholars of religion; it is written for those students of Islam and Christianity, for students of religions all around the world.

Who is this book meant for? It is meant for the learned and the unlearned; for men and women of ignorance who desire knowledge and enlightenment; it has been written for men of knowledge who constantly say: rabbi zidni Ilman.

If you desire to know who Buddha was, refer to this book. If you desire to know the gods of Hinduism, check “Religion: What to Believe.” If you desire to know Who Allah is, return to the Qur’an and the Hadith and thereafter relax with this book.

As is expected of every good book, “Religion: What to Believe” has a bibliography. Bibliographies are pointers to the intellectual community an author “spoke” to while putting a particular research work together. They call attention to how deeply rooted a particular work is in regard to the field within which it is seeking a space, a voice. Ironically, bibliographies, however, are pointers to the weakness of all academic works; that no matter how sound you think you are, your book is preceded by other books, your publication has been antedated by other publication, your text has been preceded by other texts.

At a public lecture the other time, I asked my audience, why is that the Qur’an has no bibliography? Why is it that the Qur’an has no references? Simply because bibliographies are borne of ignorance; the Qur’an is borne of out inimitable knowledge; bibliographies speak about the gaps not filled; the Qur’an speaks to gaps already filled. Ladies and gentlemen, there can be no bibliography in and for the Qur’an which is produced by He who knows the past, the present and the future.

So, I counted the number of scholars, writers and intellectuals from whose ideas the author of this book sourced inspiration, I found nothing less than one hundred.

They belong to the best in the field; they are of the East and the West; they are of the south and the north.

What is missing? Only one thing is missing from this book. It is that thing we are all looking for; it is that one thing that constantly forces writers to go back to the library to write other books. The one thing that is missing from this book is perfection.

Remember, perfection is that ideal we constantly pursue not in the knowledge that it is attainable but in the knowledge that its pursuit is in and by itself an ideal that we must all invest ourselves with.

So, this book, “Religion: What to Believe,” is like a window to the world, the world of religion, of what to believe and what not to believe.

Ask yourself, exactly what religion do you believe in and how do you project that same religion in your wakeful moments?