All religions fulfill several functions. They try to establish a relationship between man and the larger Reality of which he forms a tiny part, orienting him within the immense universe that he inhabits. This usuallyBuddhism is an exception in as much as Buddhists refuse entering into any speculation about transcendental reality. See Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, The Teaching of Buddha, 9th ed., Kosaido Printing Co., Ltd.:Tokyo, 2004. leads to a metaphysical interpretation of the world and conceptionally to the postulation of a divine Supreme Being. These efforts sooner or later culminate in a science of God , verbally “theology”, called al-aqida in Islam.
In everyday life religions are also called upon to provide rules for worshipping the Deity (al-´ibadat) and for the conduct of human affairs in all fields (al-mu’amalat). These aspects of religiosity tend to command the greatest attention, not only because they impact directly on the conduct of everyday life, but also because they are more concrete and practical than the rather esoteric contributions of theology in its original and purest sense. Worse, the role played by religions in politics today begets activities which totally overshadow the theological aspects of religion. This is true of all contemporary religious or pseudo-religious phenomena known as “-isms”.
They include American Evangelical Christians promoting a frighteningly politicized fundamentalism as well as what now is called Islamism, i.e. a militant political ideology practiced by Muslims.The latter phenomenon has recently been diagnosed by Meghnad Desai, a British Lord, in his book on “Rethinking Islamism – The Ideology of the New Terror”, Tauris: London 2007.
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