04 Apr 2018
The Cause and Effect of Religiosity on the Life Satisfaction and Psychological Wellbeing
Religiosity can be defined as “the term religiosity is derived from the word religion and it refers to numerous characteristics of religious behavior’s as well as fidelity and faith of an individual” (Khan, subhani & Ara, June, 2013). This is while life satisfaction is usually explained as a critical process in which an individual assess the quality of their lives based on their own standard (shin & Johnson, 1978). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the religion as a basic motivating force in the life of an individual that helps people to avoid the evil and practice decency which is directly associated with the mental health and physical status of the people (paragment & hill, 2003). By looking in to today’s Islamic world we come across different criminalization, rape victims, injustice, honor killings, leading to a lot of negative outcomes involving depression, suicide, anxiety and other mortalities which is against the essence of Islam that teaches us peace and safety. Thus, in order to understand the true essence of Islam, which only gives us the message of peace, we must focus on some of the teachings of great theologian philosopher as Nasir khusraw who is well renowned and has major influence on the Ismaili Muslim communities of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. He has given some of the answer to some of the major issues of his time related to the religion and life satisfaction. In this paper, I am going to focus only on the Islam religion and its true essence and in the light of teachings of Nasir khusraw and its effect on mental health.
I am very happy to start my paper mentioning what the Pakistan journal of psychology stated about the true essence of Islam. The journal explained that the result or the outcome of the research showed that out of religious involvement, influence and hope only religious influence had an impact on life satisfaction and it could have been different if the people were more focused on the true essence of Islam rather than the formalities and practices only. The journal further emphasized that people faith should be dependent on the questioning and logical reasoning to be strong in their faith and making them as a part of their true nature by incorporating them in the attitude and behavior which will make them more likely able to avoid things like jealousy, desire, pride, habitual greed and instead practice love, forgiveness, and respect towards others which shows the association between the mental and physical health. in order to understand some logical questioning and reasoning related to the true essence of Islam we will look in to the logical reasons given by the an Ismaili poet and theoligist Nasir Khusrow to the people of its time so that they remain strong in their faith and can adhere to a sense of ultimate purpose and meaning even when life events are disturbing.
Some group of people challenged Nasir khusrow (1998) that in order to believe in divine power and in ultimate purpose of God they questioned about the responsibility and freewill of the human being that “whether man is determined or free in what he does: If he is determined then God in which case, why does punishment become necessary? If he is free then can he do something which God does not like? Thus necessitating that he prevails over God?”( p.113). In reply of their query, Nasir khusrow said that this query was already asked from Imam Jafar al sadiq in his time in which he replied that “God is more just than to determine someone to disobey him and then punish him for it” (p.113). Then they asked him if the man is free to do what he wants? In reply he said that “Gods power is greater than ones transgressions in his kingdom” (p.113). In addition, they asked that what position does the man hold in this world, he said that man is in between the two positions in which he is neither determined nor free and farther he explained that the status of man is in between the animal and angel because mankind have both the carnal soul which is related to the physical especially sexual needs and activities as well as the angel soul which is related to the spiritual being. In case of the angel soul it cannot deliberately disobey and in case of animal soul it cannot deliberately obey because these two souls are already decided in their essence while mankind whose position is in between the two that’s why they are honored for being obedient and punished for being disobedience as in Quran, al mudathir, 74:38 it is mentioned that “every soul is held in pledge for its deeds”. Why mankind is entitled with the title of “Ashraf –ul makhluqat”? Because God has given mankind the insightful intellect which can differentiate the ugly from the fair and he has also blessed human beings with a sense of shame and humility which does not allow the mankind to act as animals do and we are not as free as animals due to the attribute of shame and modesty now as we know that man’s position is in between the two, the rational soul which is already determined in its nature to do good and the carnal soul which is free and not determined. So good and evil, wright and wrong is in our hand and there is no compulsion from God for the mankind in its religion because as we already mentioned that Islam is a religion of peace not of compulsion and force. As in Quran, Al Baqarah, 2:256” it is mentioned that “let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things”. Similarly, I remember that one of my teachers used to say about Hafiz shirazi a Persian poet, and I am quoting him, that: (The whole universe is summed up in the human being; devil is not a monster waiting to trap us. He is a voice inside. Look for your devil in yourself not in others. Don’t forget that the one, who knows his devil, knows his God).
Further those doubters asked Nasir khusrow that “what’s the purpose of being here. What’s the cause of man’s indeterminate state between the animality and angelicity and what is the meaning of Iqab (punishment) and how should it be known, explain” (p.98). In reply Nasir khusrow replied that the reason why the mankind is indeterminate in its state is that their souls are uneducated and in order to gain knowledge they are given organs like eyes, hears, heart, and tongue by which knowledge can be attained and understood and internalizing it in their souls so that at last when souls leaves the body the soul must be able to return to his origin where soul was sent to cultivate knowledge so that the soul can find its way back to its origin. To make it more simple, Nasir khusrow further elaborated with an example of a landowner, farmer, farm and the agricultural instrument. He said that the universal soul is the land owner; farmer is the man; farm is the material world; the instrument of the farm are your eyes, mouth, and other organs helping you in cultivating the seed; and, the seed is your intellect. Thus, you have to cultivate your intellect wisely in this world. The land owner has sent the farmer to the farm to cultivate the farm and not sit foolishly. The harness of the oxen is his body together with the animal soul. A wise sensible man would learn and acquire knowledge by using his instruments (organs) given to him as a gift in this world so that when he returns to the landowner he must have something to give back to the landowner as for the farmer and must please his landowner. Therefore we are all here for a purpose and we have to understand that before returning back to our origin we must gain and understand what we are sent for. Otherwise we will be failed in our mission. As God says to the ignorant and bad fortune people that “and indeed you have come to us alone as we created you at first and you have left behind what we bestowed on you”(6:95). So, if man does not use his instrument (organs) in this world according to the commands of God and his prophet he would remain puzzled and distressed when his soul leaves his body and there would be no any instrument to cultivate the intellect so he would be in agony as God says that “if you do good, you do good for your own selves and if you do evil, it’s against your own selves” (17:7). As for the word Iqab (punishment) it has already been discussed that whoever remains behind humanity the purpose of which is to be wise and act according to the commands of God and his prophet but instead chooses the carnal soul which is the animal soul and remains behind from reaching his origin that is his punishment being in the fire of ether.
Now focusing on the act and commands of prophets we come to know that they lived very simply avoiding this world and evil practices instead focusing on their spirituality as Hazrat Ali bin abi talib son in law and cousin of the prophet who is described as the gate to city of knowledge by hazrat Muhammad (p.b.u.h) himself and who is the single most important intellectual authority in Islam according to the book justice and remembrance by Reza shah kazemi has quoted sayings of hazrat Ali that “By God this world of yours is more contemptible in my eyes than a chewed up bone of a pig in the hand of a leper”( p. 53). Further Hazrat Ali said that “the world is as worthless to me as that which drips from the nose of a goat” (p.53). keeping in mind that the causes which the holy prophets and a man who is known as the gate to the city of knowledge condemns this world and gives no importance why would its followers waste time on doing something against the teachings of their prophet and spiritual leaders. This is how Islam and its spiritual leaders has thought the people to follow instead of getting involved in crimes and other greedy things which leads to criminalization and further leads to a lot of unhealthy issues related to health as mentioned before that by chasing spiritual growth you are more likely to avoid evil doing and involve in behavior’s showing love, respect, compassion, and forgiveness which is directly associated with the mental and physical health status. However, in American sociological review by Durkheim (1951) and Simmel (1997) they have mentioned social dimension as the essence of religion because involvement in religious activities with the same minded people gives them a sense of friendship and social interaction to help each other.
As all religions teach the same philosophy of compassion, love, and respect, therefore we can say that the effect of every religiosity would be the same. This is when people internalizes it in their behavior and lives it rather than showing, then the effect would definitely be stronger in mental health than physical health as Koenig (2012) explained that the relationship between the religiosity and mental health is stronger than physical health because it encompasses psychological, social and behavioral aspect which is related to the mental health. Furthermore, Ahmed M Abdel Khalek (2013) after doing his research he concluded that, there is a possibility of treating anxiety depression in Muslim clients using the psychotherapeutic religious involvement, because religion has high importance in the society. As we saw when we visited the Karachi psychiatric hospital they also used this religious involvement method to help patients of drug addicts.
Concluding this paper, again I remember one of my teachers mentioned this and I quote that “your soul is the king of your body, your mind the scribe, your intellect the vizier (Divan, 91:15; Ruby of badakshan, 214).that your intellect controls your soul and your soul controls your body but the intellect is developed through knowledge. We must control our mind to have a control in our lives and we must internalize the knowledge in our nature to be free of desires and evils which has direct relation with mental health. it is clear from above teachings that Islam is a complete way of life which leads our lives in a healthy and prosperous way if we tend to act according to the teachings of Islam and and its holy prophets . Similarly, every religion has its significant impact on the mental health of its people in a positive way because they all teach peace and prosperity.
KHUSRAW, N. (1998). GUSHAYISH WA RAHAYISH (F.M. HUNZAI, Trans.). LONDON NEWYORK: I.B.Tauris & co ltd victoria house bloomsburry square London WC1B 4DZ. (Original work published 1998).
Khan, B., Subhani, B., & Ara, A. (2013). RELIGIOSITY AND LIFE SATISFACTION. Pakistan Journal of Psychology, 44(1).
KAZEMI, R.S. (2006). JUSTICE AND REMEMBRANCE. London New York, U.S: I.B. Tauris & co ltd.
Koenig, H. G. (2012). Religion, spirituality, and health: The research and clinical implications. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2012.
Hill, P. C., & Pargament, K. I. (2008). Advances in the conceptualization and measurement of religion and spirituality: Implications for physical and mental health research.
Lim, C., & Putnam, R. D. (2010). Religion, social networks, and life satisfaction. American Sociological Review, 75(6), 914-933.
Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2013). Religiosity, health and happiness: Significant relations in adolescents from Qatar. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 0020764013511792.
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