Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Between Spirituality and Religiosity: Striking a Balance

Religion has played a crucial part in the lives of human beings ever since when.  The Abrahamic religions would place this right from the first human being that is Adam.  Whatever said and done any religion is just a belief system that can neither be proved or disproved and since anyone can believe in anything Islam puts it bluntly in Surah Al Kafirun 109 : 6 -  " To you your religion and to me mine."  This would also indicate that it would be pointless to do anything else like argue or fight about it.
Religiosity is a general term that is used in the scientific study of religion to refer to the beliefs and behaviors of individuals that address ultimate or transcendent concerns and sometimes just considered to be synonymous with such terms as religiousness, orthodoxy, faith, belief, piousness, devotion, and holiness.   I would simply put it as something that is more visible and more tangible that way.  Hence you can identify a person’s religious belief merely by his or her outward manifestation in the form of dress and/or other related social trappings.
Thus humans have had a clear divide in matters of religion which can be easily seen in the outward manifestations of appearance, behavior and even speech.  To me this is the easier part.  For example, even a child of six can complete the Ramadan fasting faithfully for an entire month or pray five times a day.  And it is also not uncommon to see children wearing crosses or going to the church every Sunday.  But wait, if such outward manifestations of religiosity are that easy to follow then it must be a piece of cake to be a “religious” person but mere outward manifestations alone in any religion  do not make anyone religious.

The second and more difficult of being religious has to do with spirituality aspects and tenets which deal with the more practical  aspects of the values prescribed in each religion.  The Christian faith, for example, demands its adherents to follow the Ten Commandments.  Loving your neighbor as yourself is something that is almost impossible.  Other acts of goodness like caring for your neighbors, society and the environment are more easily said than done.  One common value is well outlined in what has been termed as the Golden Rule. The odd thing here is that this is one area which all religions preach the same thing but it is not that easily followed.  The degree of adherence to any article of faith also differs between people of the same faith.  Some take it more lightly than others.  Muslims are generally very “fussy” about the Friday congregational prayers.  Followers of other religions may not have similar forms of congregational prayers but may be more religious in following the true essence of what their  the religion demands in terms of values.

Most people feel that a sensible balance between the two aspects of religiosity and spirituality can be maintained.  Of course that would be ideal I suppose but look around the real world and see how much of these two aspects are really balanced.  There are people on both ends of the spectrum as well as others who are in between.  Whatever said and done it is up to each and every individual concerned to decide where to position oneself.  Therein lies the choice.

No comments: