The Meaning and Nature of Religion

Ali Mesbah / Associate Professor, IKI
Received: 2020/11/18 - Accepted: 2021/03/23

One approach to religion is distinguished by its emphasis on, and giving priority to, the behavioral aspects, especially religious rites and social ceremonies, despite its acknowledgement that religion consists of several elements, including beliefs. On the other hand, others regard ritual practices as the results of the unique view of each religion toward the source of the universe and the human being, giving priority to the belief system of religion. Still a third group refuses to take any of these features as essential to religion, and considers religious experience as its essence, sidelining both religious practice and belief systems, whose alteration or omission won’t harm the essence of religion. A forth approach; however, looks at religion as a tool in the service of some individual or social ends. Consequently, the nature, scope, and objectives of religion, and its relation to human life change according to each and every of the above-mentioned approaches. This article makes a critical analysis of some of the most popular of these approaches, while trying to argue for its own view of the subject.
Keywords: Religion, Essence, Meaning, Nature, Experience, Practice, Belief System.

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