Some people say that religion is just opium which destroys the strength of a person and makes him useless. How true is this thought? Let’s analyse it in the light of evidences so that it can become clear whether these statements are based on knowledge or ignorance, realities or falsehood.
The reality is that such statements are made by the people who are secular and sick of religion. They either have not studied Islam properly or have tried to understand Islam by reading the books of prejudiced people. What other religions reply to it is their matter, but our religion is Islam and therefore, we answer to it ‘whether the religion Islam is opium or it makes addiction of heedlessness and idleness go away’ in the light of the historical facts.
If you study history, you will know as to what the condition of the people was before the advent of Islam in Arabian region. Read about their condition before the advent of Islam and to what extent they progressed afterwards.
A study of history shows that people neither knew much about the land of Arab and Hijaz, nor were they known for their power and strength like Caesar, Khosrow, Rome, Greece and Persia. Makkah was populated by the idolaters or the traders who would go to Syria or Yemen for business. In comparison to Rome and Persia, Makkah was a small city with a population of ten or twelve thousand, a city with no king and no minister. It did not have any law, army or anything famous except the Ka’bah.
Similarly, if we search for the history to know whether the people of Makkah had any great achievement for which outsiders would give them great respect or the stories or achievements of their bravery like that of Rustom and Isfandiyar were read in the world or there were gold and silver mines or they had some other great work, it will become obvious that there was no such thing.
Similarly, if we try to know whether the people of Makkah were experts in any specific art such as they constructed a dam like the people of Saba in Yemen constructed a great dam named Sadd-e-Ma`arib [سدِ مآرِب], we will come to know that in Makkah there was no source of permanent water storage; there were only wells out of which Zamzam well was the most famous. Apart from this they would fulfil their needs through rain.
Similarly, there were no philosophers or writers like Aristotle and Plato whose philosophy or books are famous all over the world nor were there any expert of arts and sciences. In fact, out of the whole nation, there were only ten or twenty people who could read and write.
When the student of history studies history, this picture of Arabian region before Islam appears to him. On the other hand, it is evident from the history that after the advent of Islam, these common and unknown people became leaders, victorious, philosophers, Islamic scholars and inventors of fields of knowledge. They also taught civilization to the world, changed big kingdoms and collected tax from them. They also introduced fields of knowledge to the world and let them know how to progress.
Then, this nation did glorious work. They did not only gain the knowledge of the fields of knowledge about which people had never heard, but they also imparted them to people after originating them. For example, what is the way of conveying news of someone or information to others? What is the chain of Sanad? How do we get plenty of knowledge from the Divine Book? How can we derive Ijtihadi results from them after connecting them together? How was a system of government formed and how its rules were clearly mentioned?
It was these Arab residents who explained these fields of knowledge in such a clear way that the people before Aristotle could not explain it in this way, let alone Aristotle. In this region, after the advent of Islam, institutions of gaining knowledge came into being, scholars were prepared, Masajid were filled with Salah-offering Muslims and knowledge spread to every home.
They were already very good at poetry, using language and had strong memories, but then wonderful events related to such knowledge, intelligence, power of reasons, Shan-e-Ijtihad, inner and outer marvels, purity of the heart, purity of Nafs, abstinence and piety and good manners took place that the world is still unable to present events like them.
Sayyiduna ‘Umar Farooq, ‘Ubaidah Bin Jarrah, Sa’d Bin Abi Waqas, ‘Amr Bin ‘Aas, Khalid Bin Waleed, Ameer Mu’awiyah رَضِىَ اللّٰەُ عَنْهُم were a little more distinguished than the common people of Makkah, but Islam shaped their distinctive qualities in such a way that their achievements astonished the world. The same thing was followed later on by Muhammad Bin Qasim, Tariq Bin Ziyad, Musa Bin Naseer and Qutaybah Bin Muslim رَحِمَهُمُ اللّٰە. These are the individuals who made big kingdoms submit to them.
Amongst these common people of Makkah and Madinah, Islam blessed personages like Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Bin Mas’ood, Abdullah Bin ‘Abbas, Zaid Bin Saabit, Abu Darda, Mu’aaz Bin Jabal, Abu Hurayrah رَضِىَ اللّٰەُ عَنْهُم with vast knowledge. When you count the fields of life, you can make a list of blessed companions, Tabi’een and Tab’-e-Tabi’een. You will bear witness that the power of Islam made them marvellous! Now, tell me, ‘Does Islam enlighten or restrict, degrade or elevate? Does Islam bring down or give new heights?’
It was the power of stimulation, persuasion, strength and energy of Islam which filled people with such awakening, courage, enthusiasm and strength that gave birth to the biggest transformation of the world between ten years before and fifty years after the advent of Islam. If there is any religion that can lead to such a big transformation in such a short period of time, it is only Islam which practically has done all that which no other could do.
Now those who talk about opium are themselves under the influence of opium and that’s why they say such things that religion makes a person lazy. Otherwise, the history of Islam that is in front of us is telling something different.