Oxford Dictionaries define religion as the belief in and/or worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
There are so many sects, cults, religions, philosophies, and movements in the world, all of which claim to be the right way or the only true path of God How can one determine which one is correct or whether, in fact, all are correct?
One method by which the answer can be found is to clear away the superficial differences in the teachings of the various claimants to the ultimate truth and identifies the central object of worship upon which they call, directly or indirectly.
False religions all have in common one basic concept regarding God they either claim that all men are gods, or that specific men were God, or that nature is God, or that God is a figment of man’s imagination.
Thus, it may be stated that the basic message of false religion is that God may be worshipped in the form of His creation.
False religions invite man to the worship of creation by calling the creation or some aspect of its God. For example, prophet Jesus invited his followers to worship God, but those who claim to be Jesus’ followers today call people to worship Jesus, claiming that he was God. Buddha was a reformer who introduced several humanistic principles in the religion of India.
He did not claim to be God, nor did he suggest to his followers that he be an object of worship. Yet today most Buddhists who are to be found outside of India have taken him to be God and they prostrate themselves to idols made in their perception of his likeness.
By using the principle of identifying the object of worship, we can easily detect false religions and the contrived nature of their origin. As God said in the Qur’an:
“That which you worship besides Him are only names and you and your forefathers have invented for which Allah has sent down no authority: the command belongs only to Allah He has command that you worship Him; that is the right religion, but most men do not understand.” [Qur’an 12:40]
It may be argued that all religions teach good things, so why should it matter which one we follow?
The reply is that all false religions teach the greatest evil the worship of creation.
Creation-worship is the greatest sin that man can commit because it contradicts the very purpose of his creation. Man was created to worship God alone as Allah has explicitly stated in the Qur’an:
“I have only created jinns and men, that they may worship Me” (Qur’an 51:56)
Consequently, the worship of creation, which is the essence of idolatry is the only unforgivable sin. One who dies in this state of idolatry, has sealed his fate in the next life. This is not an opinion, but a revealed fact stated by God in his final revelation to man:
“Verily Allah will not forgive the joining of partners with Him, but He may forgive (sins) less than that for whomsoever He wishes.” [Qur’an 4:48 and 116]
Universality of God’s Religion
Since the consequences of following a false religion are so grave, the true religion of God must have been universally understandable and universally attainable in the past and it must continue eternally to be understandable and attainable throughout the entire world.
In other words, the true religion of God cannot be confined to any one people, place, or period of time.
Nor is it logical that such a religion should impose conditions that have nothing to do with the relationship of man with God, such as baptism, or belief in man as a savior, or an intermediary. Within the central principle of Islam and its definition (the surrender of one’s will to God) lie the roots of Islam’s universality.
Whenever man comes to the realization that God is one and distinct from His creation, and submits himself to God, he becomes a Muslim in body and spirit and is eligible for paradise.
Consequently, anyone at any time in the most remote regions of the world can become Muslim, a follower of God’s religion, Islam, by merely rejecting the worship of creation and turning to God alone.
It should be noted, however, that in order to actually submit to God’s will, one must continually choose between right and wrong. Indeed, man is endowed by God with the power not only to distinguish right from wrong but also to choose between them. These God-given powers carry with them an important responsibility, namely, that man is answerable to God for the choices he makes.
It follows, then, that man should try his utmost to do good and avoid evil. These concepts are expressed in the final revelation as follows:
“Verily, those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians (angel-and star worshippers) — any of these who believe in Allah and the Last Day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord. They will not be overcome by fear or grief.” [Qur’an 2:62]
If, for whatever reason, they fail to accept the final message after it has been clearly explained to them, they will be in grave danger. The last Prophet said:
“Whoever among the Christians and Jews hears of me but does not affirm his belief in what I brought and dies in this state will be among the inhabitants of hell.” (Sahih Muslim [English Translation], Vol.1 P.91 No, 284.
Allah knows Best.