Deen vs. Religion

Editor’s Note: The Qur’an refers to the teachings within it as the Deen. This is traditionally translated as “religion”, but the translation depends on the context of the verse, for example

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ
Master of the Day of Judgment

in Al Fatihah verse 4 above, Deen is translated as Judgment. In other verses, religion is typically used. In Arabic there is a word, mazhab which actually means religion, but is never used in the Qur’an.

To quote the late Aurangzaib Yousofzai,

The Quran does not preach a religion.  The modern world too does not need religion.  It needs the emancipation of the downtrodden working classes of humans in every corner of the globe, from the clutches of the worst kind of capitalism rampant all around.  This job cannot be accomplished by a funny assortment of rituals of worship, which include praying five to seven times in 24 hours, a worst kind of self-torture in the name of fasting that squeezes your energies out of your bodies to the extent of rendering you motionless, and sporadic, lesser and major, pilgrimages to Makkah in Saudi Arabia.

So is Deen really religion? What are the differences, if any? The following list is gathered from contributions of individual comments across the internet and compiled in this Facebook post.

Deen vs. Religion

Deen is divine, religion is man-made.

Deen has God, religion has clerics.

Deen is monotheistic, religion is polytheistic.

Deen beautifies God, religion tarnishes Him.

Deen purifies truth, religion contaminates it.

Deen is natural, religion is perverse.

Deen is rational, religion is irrational.

Deen is inclusive, religion is exclusive.

Deen is emancipation, religion is subjugation.

Deen unites, religion divides.

Deen liberates, religion enslaves.

Deen is pluralism, religion is homogeneity.

Deen is enlightenment, religion is confusion.

Deen is gender-inclusive; religion is patriarchal & misogynistic.

Deen focuses on the bigger picture, religion is petty.

Deen stimulates progress, religion hinders it.

Deen builds, religion destroys.

Deen inculcates total selflessness, religion compartmentalises it.

Deen is a whole, religion is a minute section.

Deen is universal, religion is factional.

Deen is universal welfare, religion is personal salvation.

Deen celebrates diversity, religion demands uniformity.

Deen produces productive and progressive members of society, religion produces emotional and reactionary subjects.

Deen is inherent within us, religion is imposed from without.

Note: the definitions for both are in the article following this one: Deen vs Religion – in depth.

About Adam Sayid 11 Articles
Adam Sayid is presently Visiting Religious Advisor at The Association of British Muslims, and the Chief executive officer at Quranology the Quran App

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