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Following a religion without believing in God

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    Following a religion without believing in God

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    Something Kafir wrote in another thread got me thinking ...

    A while ago I read about a group of people who refer to themselves as 'atheist Christians' (or was it 'Christian atheists'?).
    From what I understood, not only do they not believe that Jesus is God, they do not believe in God at all (hence they are atheists); but they respect the teachings, values and principles of Christianity (without the 'religious' part, if that makes sense) and therefore follow them.

    I don't know for sure about this, but I wonder whether there are equally people who do not believe in God, but respect and follow the teachings, values and principles of Muhammed (without the 'religious' part). People who follow Islam as a life style, rather than a religion.

    What do we make of those people?

    Are they distorting our faith?
    Are they on their journey to the truth?
    Is it deemed better to at least follow the prinicples of a religion, even without believing in God? Or would that be pointless?

    I hope I'm making sense. I would love to hear what others think.

    Peace
    Last edited by glo; 12-18-2008 at 08:03 AM. Reason: typo
    Following a religion without believing in God

    Peace
    glocandle ani 1 - Following a religion without believing in God

    Here I stand.
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    May God help me.
    Amen.

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    im confused?
    is this discussing Christianity or...
    Following a religion without believing in God

    ...desperate for husnul-khitaam...


    please make dua that Allah grants me a good end (to my life). please make dua that Allah guides me.

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    well... I've known several Muslims who dont perform salah, dont fast on Ramadhan, drink, free sex.... let say... non-practising Muslims...

    But they're very angry when the Muhammad caricatures were drawn, they're against any laws allowing Muslims to change religion, they dont want other peoples to ridicule or criticise Islam or Muhammad..

    I think that they are not atheists but just lazy to practise Islam...
    Following a religion without believing in God

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    i do know this girl from Iran her family actually believe Muhammed (pbuh) is a prophet and believe the Quran was sent to him but they r not muslims. Which intially got me really confused but apparently non-muslims in Iran r treated badly so her family just cant accept to follow islam and the laws of Allah (swt) because of the muslim government in Iran. Sad but true.
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    They are humanitarians
    Following a religion without believing in God

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by Ramlah View Post
    im confused?
    is this discussing Christianity or...
    I am not discussing Christianity per se. If I use Christianity as an example, then only because I can relate to it better myself.

    The question is (as the OP states) with regards to people who follow the principles, values and teachings of a particular religion (Islam, Christianity, or I guess any other religion) without actually believing in God.

    What do we as believers make of that?

    I hope this explains it a bit better.
    Following a religion without believing in God

    Peace
    glocandle ani 1 - Following a religion without believing in God

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by maryam87 View Post
    i do know this girl from Iran her family actually believe Muhammed (pbuh) is a prophet and believe the Quran was sent to him but they r not muslims. Which intially got me really confused but apparently non-muslims in Iran r treated badly so her family just cant accept to follow islam and the laws of Allah (swt) because of the muslim government in Iran. Sad but true.
    Maybe because they're Baha'is? The Baha'is accepted Muhammad as s prophet and Qur'an revealed to him by Allah. But they dont want to be called as Muslims because they follow Baha'ullah.
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    The whole point of religion is to get close to God and to follow the truth which He has sent. You can't really be following a religion if you don't accept its most fundamental belief i.e. of God and His Messenger.


    this is a response from an earlier thread to a similar question;


    Sister, when atheists say you don't need a religion to understand God - then you ask them what their definition of religion is. In Islam, we need to understand who Allah is through revelation, through His Messengers' and from them we are able to understand who Allah is, what He wants from us, and what will help us reach our destination of Allah's pleasure and reward.

    By saying that you can understand God without religion, then you're saying that you can understand God without guidance from Allah himself.


    They may argue that you can, but its likely that they don't have a perfect system which covers all the ways of life which Islam teaches through one example (in our case, Muhammad (sal Allah alaihi wasalam)) - for them, they'll wander around blindly, not really being sure they're upon the truth since they will have to find their own answers for wrong and right, and they'll continuously live a life of contradiction on these issues since they won't be certain of what they believe, wandering to the left and sometimes to the right. This then isn't really a religion, but a selection of varying choices which the person keeps differing in. Whereas for a religion to be true, it has firm principles which the believer follows, a light so he can be sure what is right and what is wrong without contradiction and error.


    That's why you need 'organized' religion which will be organized (not 'disorganised) so you know what is true, what is right, from falsehood and error. Otherwise you're just walking around blindly without a firm set truth. So you don't truly understand God, nor can you get close to Him, accept with a true Messenger who you don't doubt in his claim of Prophethood.

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by - Qatada - View Post
    The whole point of religion is to get close to God and to follow the truth which He has sent. You can't really be following a religion if you don't accept its most fundamental belief i.e. of God and His Messenger.
    Thanks for sharing, Qatada.

    Allow me to be a little more specific.
    Imagine an atheist recognises certain qualities in people who believe in God and appreciates those values (i.e. charity, modesty, hospitality etc etc)
    Say this atheists decides to model those qualities for him/herself, because s/he recognises that there are benefits in it which may better him/her as a human being.
    But, doing all that, this atheist still does not believe in God.

    S/he sees the principles as wise and good, but entirely man-made rather than divine.


    I repeat my original questions:
    What do we make of those people?

    Are they distorting our faith?
    Are they on their journey to the truth?
    Is it deemed better to at least follow the prinicples of a religion, even without believing in God? Or would that be pointless?


    Peace
    Following a religion without believing in God

    Peace
    glocandle ani 1 - Following a religion without believing in God

    Here I stand.
    I can do no other.
    May God help me.
    Amen.

    Come, let us worship and bow down •
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker

    [Psalm 95]

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by glo View Post
    Something Kafir wrote in another thread got me thinking ...

    A while ago I read about a group of people who refer to themselves as 'atheist Christians' (or was it 'Christian atheists'?).
    From what I understood, not only do they not believe that Jesus is God, they do not believe in God at all (hence they are atheists); but they respect the teachings, values and principles of Christianity (without the 'religious' part, if that makes sense) and therefore follow them.

    I don't know for sure about this, but I wonder whether there are equally people who do not believe in God, but respect and follow the teachings, values and principles of Muhammed (without the 'religious' part). People who follow Islam as a life style, rather than a religion.

    What do we make of those people?

    Are they distorting our faith?
    Are they on their journey to the truth?
    Is it deemed better to at least follow the prinicples of a religion, even without believing in God? Or would that be pointless?

    I hope I'm making sense. I would love to hear what others think.

    Peace




    What do we make of those people? They are arrogant in the extreme. They recognize the superiority of theistic morals but still continue to rebel against Allah in ANY way they can.

    Are they distorting our faith? If they claim to be Muslim but dont believe in Allah, YES, they are distorting it and deluding themselves.
    Are they on their journey to the truth? No, far from it. Allah gave us religion to guide us to him. Faith in Allah is the only thing that can lead us to the truth. Without it, they are imposters spinning lies and trying to pass it off as "truth".
    Is it deemed better to at least follow the prinicples of a religion, even without believing in God? Or would that be pointless?

    It is probably deemed to be arrogant in the extreme. First theyw ant religion gone. THen they adopt the rules of religion but refuse belief in Allah. Like the blindman who walks upright and proud but doesnt realize he is about to walk off a cliff.

    And we all know the price of arrogance.


    Verses that pertain to this.

    QURAN[63:4] When you see them, you may be impressed by their looks. And when they speak, you may listen to their eloquence. They are like standing logs. They think that every call is intended against them. These are the real enemies; beware of them. GOD condemns them; they have deviated.

    QURAN[63:5] When they are told, "Come let the messenger of GOD pray for your forgiveness," they mockingly turn their heads, and you see them repel others and act arrogantly.
    Last edited by AntiKarateKid; 12-18-2008 at 02:14 PM.
    Following a religion without believing in God

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    This is reminding me of the thread I started while ago about whether we need religion to believe in God or not.

    If some people who call themselves deists are not following a specific religion to believe in God due to their beliefs that believe in God don't need a religion and they only need their instincts to follow

    but this is the first time I heard about people who do the opposite thing and following a teaching of a religion without following the God that this religion approach
    it might be because they like the teaching of a specific of religion because of the good of its values, it does nothing to do with the religious part but with the ethics and the value of such religion

    for example, we might find someone like fasting because he might think that it make himself more relax or its good for health. He might know that some religions followers do fast but he is not following that teaching as a follower. He is doing that because he like to do it and its good from his view

    I hope you got what I meant, because its confusing a little bit
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by glo
    Are they on their journey to the truth?
    It could be so, they may follow a path of goodness which may eventually make them realise that this is a perfect way of life, maybe making them realise that it couldn't have been sent by anyone other than God?


    Is it deemed better to at least follow the prinicples of a religion, even without believing in God? Or would that be pointless?
    That would be good, although following the religion because of God is better and more rewardable. We believe that anyone who does good for this life will get its good, but the one who does God while believing in His Messengers' and following them will be rewarded in this life for their good, and the next [because they accepted the truth which God sent for His sake - since He is the Merciful - He would reward them for that].


    And Allah knows best.


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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    The abrahamic religions, if not all major world religions, all essentially have similar messages when it comes to morals, teaching, principles, etc. Do not murder, do not lie, do not steal, be kind to one another, be generous, give to the poor, and so on. A person can uphold these principles whether or not they believe in God or not. Many atheists/agnostics give to charity, do beneficial things for society, and can even follow a quite strict moral code, depending on the person, of course. If these people choose to label themselves as following the christian way of life, while not believing in the principles of christianity, would it be too different had they been following the islamic way of life, without believing in Allah? Of course, there may be minor differences, but I'm talking about the general idea.

    So essentially, one who does not believe in the theistic (is that the right word here?) parts of a religion is just a moral person, whether the religion is christianity, islam, buddhism, etc.

    Are they distorting our faith? I would say the answer is that they maybe are... If someone sees a "practicing" muslim who does not believe in God, they may think it's acceptable to do that, and that if they did the same thing, they would also be considered muslims. We might end up getting dozens of "atheist muslims", and regular muslims may follow their path.

    I think oing this could bring them closer to the belief part of the religion, for the same reason Qatada mentioned, but it could also not benefit them in the least.. it would depend on the specific person, I guess.

    Living a moral life is better than living a moral less one, but ultimately, in the hereafter, righteous deeds AND correct belief are needed to make it to heaven. One without the other won't help at all.
    "To those who believe AND do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward." [al maidah-9]
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by crayon View Post
    Living a moral life is better than living a moral less one, but ultimately, in the hereafter, righteous deeds AND correct belief are needed to make it to heaven. One without the other won't help at all.
    I really do have trouble with this, at least one way round. If someone were to live the perfect moral, selfless life, dedicated to helping others I find the idea that they would fail pass muster to get into Heaven just because they didn't have 'correct belief' utterly ludicrous.
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by Trumble View Post
    I really do have trouble with this, at least one way round. If someone were to live the perfect moral, selfless life, dedicated to helping others I find the idea that they would fail pass muster to get into Heaven just because they didn't have 'correct belief' utterly ludicrous.
    I believe the problem with that is no human being is capable of living a perfect, moral, and selfless life. Speaking as a Christian, that is why we depend upon God for our salvation and not only good works.
    Following a religion without believing in God

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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by Trumble View Post
    I really do have trouble with this, at least one way round. If someone were to live the perfect moral, selfless life, dedicated to helping others I find the idea that they would fail pass muster to get into Heaven just because they didn't have 'correct belief' utterly ludicrous.

    We believe that blasphemy is the worst sin, since the person is rejecting God and His Message. If someone says God has lied, they still have this life to repent from that claim and to look into it to see its reality. If they die in a state of disbelief, claiming that God has lied - then why should God reward them for that? They strived for this life, so He gave them this life. The one who strived for God in this life will get his reward from Him in the one to come.
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by - Qatada - View Post
    We believe that blasphemy is the worst sin, since the person is rejecting God and His Message. If someone says God has lied, they still have this life to repent from that claim and to look into it to see its reality. If they die in a state of disbelief, claiming that God has lied - then why should God reward them for that? They strived for this life, so He gave them this life. The one who strived for God in this life will get his reward from Him in the one to come.
    Surely there is a huge difference between rejecting God and simply not believing there is one? You cannot coherently claim God has lied if you don't believe there is a God.
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by Trumble View Post
    Surely there is a huge difference between rejecting God and simply not believing there is one? You cannot coherently claim God has lied if you don't believe there is a God.
    Big difference, same relativity, you could just change Qatadas post from "God has lied" to claiminig "there is a God"--near enough the same sin. i reckon "near enough".
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by glo View Post
    Thanks for sharing, Qatada.

    Allow me to be a little more specific.
    Imagine an atheist recognises certain qualities in people who believe in God and appreciates those values (i.e. charity, modesty, hospitality etc etc)
    Say this atheists decides to model those qualities for him/herself, because s/he recognises that there are benefits in it which may better him/her as a human being.
    But, doing all that, this atheist still does not believe in God.

    S/he sees the principles as wise and good, but entirely man-made rather than divine.


    I repeat my original questions:
    What do we make of those people?

    Are they distorting our faith?
    Are they on their journey to the truth?
    Is it deemed better to at least follow the prinicples of a religion, even without believing in God? Or would that be pointless?


    Peace
    John Mill proposed a "utilitarian principle". Immanuel Kant taught his "categorical imperative." Both were moral philosophers who called people to live according to principles that would be categorized, just as you have above, as "good and wise."

    As to what to make of these people:

    1) Are they distorting our faith?
    They are not distorting our faith unless they claim to have gotten the principles themselves from our faith. In which case it is sort of like a person who wants the benefits of a wedding without going through the process of actually getting married. Yes, they have distorted the faith because they deny the very basis from which we develop these principles. But it is also possible that these people have arrive at the same principles independently. If that is the case, then, since they haven't considered God or religion it is hard to say that they would have distorted it. So, ultimately I guess it depends not on what they believe, but how they arrived at it as to whether one would say they have distorted something. One can only distort what one has actually utilized and then modified.

    2) Are they on their own journey to the truth?
    Well they are certianly on their own journey. Is it to the truth? I don't know that we can answer that in the present. We might think that they have some elements of the truth and if they just keep exploring they may find the rest of it. But, if you have ever watched baby animals leaving their nest, they all may take the same first few steps. Then they begin to veer off pursing whatever it is that interests them at the moment. So too I think with those who adopted our principles but not our God. We only know the steps they have taken thus far, we don't have any guarantee one way or the other about them eventually finding God or the truth or religion or not. They might. They might not. And until we know where their journey takes them, I don't think we can say what journey they are on. At best we can say that they are on a journey of discovery. If they tell us that they are searching after trught, then we accept that at face value and say they are on a search for truth. But a search for truth and a journey to the truth are not necessarily the same. Ponce DeLeon went out in search of the Fountain of Youth. Do we say that we was on a journey to the Fountain of Youth, or just in search of the famous fountain? Columbus is credited with "discovering" America, but when he left Spain no one said that he was on a journey to America, they said that he was searching for a new route to the spice islands of the orient. Therefore, it seems to me we can't say that a person is on a journey to the truth until we see where the journey actually them.

    3) Is it deemed better to at least follow the prinicples of a religion, even without believing in God? Or would that be pointless?

    Of course it is better to follow principles that God has given us that are meant to make our lives better for us than to not follow them. This is true irregardless of whether one believes in them, accepts them, accepts the one who gave them, does so voluntarily, or does them under compulsion.

    Think about the principles of eating a balanced diet. As a parent you want to promote a good and healthy diet for your kids. You believe you know what that is and try to teach it to them. You hope they believe you and adopt it for themselves. But even if they don't accpet your teaching, as long as they are in your house and your provide the food, they may not have any option accept to eat a balanced diet, even if they would prefer and eventually intend to do otherwise. Their beliefs do not make the balanced diet any more or less beneficial to them. It is still a balanced diet no matter the reason for it being consumed.

    Likewise, when people keep good principles for living that God gives to bless our lives, they no doubt bless the lives of even unbelievers. And this is a good thing as far as it goes. But we have to remember that it is good only as far as it goes. It might help them in this life. I don't see how it helps them in the next. (With one cavet that I will speak to later.) So, when you ask, "or would that be pointless?", I need to know what you consider the point to be. If it is only for this life, then it most certainly is not pointless. If you think the whole point is not in this life at all, but the afterlife, then it most certianly is. And if you think that there is meaning in both, then it isn't completely pointless, but there is still lot of the point that is being missed.



    Now for the cavet:
    I think the above is true no matter what religion or belief system one is operating under. If you listen to the authority, and live as the authority prescribes, then you will receive the benefit intended by the authority. If you don't listen to the authority, but still happen to live as the authority prescribes, you will accure the same benefits. But if you reject the authority itself, then you are rejecting anything beyond the benefits of those specific acts and have divorced yourself from the authority so that you are on your own for any else that might accure to you from having had a relationship with that authority.

    Now, certain religions may not hold that it is important to the authority that one actually has a relationship with the authority or the God/god of that religion. In such a case, in those religions there may be no difference between one who does and does not believe, as long as everyone jumps through the same hoops. (I.e., there are those who believe that God is loving and gracious, so that all "good" people -- I'll let you define good for yourself -- go to heaven.) But where a relationship is important, then to do what the authority says, but to reject the authority itself, would seem to mean that one has rejected all that the authority might do for you beyond the immediate benefits that result from eating a balanced diet, not running red lights, or telling the truth, assuming that these are prescribed acts in the religion. Jesus himself tells the story of those who come up to him in the end times seeking his protection for they have done all that he ordered, but he says to them "Away from me, I never knew you." Surely there is probably some point in that sort of life, but not as much of one as I would hope people would find in actually developing a personal relationship with him as well.
    Last edited by Grace Seeker; 12-19-2008 at 06:53 PM.
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    Re: Following a religion without believing in God

    format_quote Originally Posted by Trumble View Post
    I really do have trouble with this, at least one way round. If someone were to live the perfect moral, selfless life, dedicated to helping others I find the idea that they would fail pass muster to get into Heaven just because they didn't have 'correct belief' utterly ludicrous.

    What IS ludicrous here is you dismissing the big picture. Let's say you live a "moral" life. First of all, assuming Islam is correct. You morals are not even fully consistent with Islamic morals. Second, OK good you "helped" other people when you could. Your definition of "help" is not even fully consistent with the way Allah wants you to help people. you "help" gays get legally married while Allah forbids it, what now? But you spent your life arguing against the truth and deterring people from its path. THe xample you set and the people you lead astray also come into play. God gave you many chances yo learn and convert to Islam. You have hundreds of posts in an ISLAMIC forum and repeatedly refused to convert. That will drag you downt tooo because you actively refused the truth.

    Allah is not a utilitarian like you suggest. How you impacted society is just 1 piece of the pie. Your personal failure for refusing Islam and its morals and deterring people from its path is a big big part.

    So spare me the "If I do what I percieve as good, i will get into heaven," stuff. It ill befits someone wiht your post count to be arguing such a ludicrous and myopic point.
    Following a religion without believing in God

    Even Satan believes in Allah.
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