Monthly Archives: March 2015

Conept of Religion…

Assalam o Alaikum, this is my final thesis assignment (practical work). So, mist read it and point out the mistakes.


In the name of Allah, the most merciful, beneficent and compassionate. All praises to be Allah, who created the man with clot of blood and taught him with pen and gave him the power of knowledge.

All the blessings of Allah for our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W). Our salutations are for him. He is the greatest educator of the world and his follow-ship will give us dominance and success here and hereafter.


Religion is the world’s greatest mystery and universally admitted by all and a customary thing. What is worshiping? And why this bowing? Why these are ritual acts, rites and sacrificial customs? No one knows, either it true or false, even no one can bear the difficulty to find its reality. Strange, but true, no one can judge the nature of religion, its standards of measuring and what is the function of itself, its criteria and its requirement. It is accepted universally that in each field of study with the help of invest researchers, the first preference is to overcome the distinctive differences of two oppositely fields. But the condition is research must be free and fair and also unbiased.1

No one knows , what is the philosophy in which lawful (halal) and unlawful (haram) pious and impious, virtue and sin and even in sacred and profane. Here we have to consult with the concept of sacred and profane. The outlook of this is as following :

1- What is sacred and profane.

2- Criteria of sacred and profane.

3- Sacred and profane in Qur’an.

4- Modern concept about sacred and profane.

Our concern is to know about, ”what is sacred and profane”? The word sacred means or ” Applied to that which is consecrated (Latin sacrare, to consecrate), or dedicated to, or to set apart for, religious use.2 And the word profane means ”literally before as outside the temple (Latin profanum) ; hence profanus was applied to those persons who came to the temple and remaining outside and unattached, were not initiated”.3

The word profane usually used in English language in temporal, non religious and secular. But after the Emile Durkheim’s 1912 work on the primary forms of religious life, the word profane mainly used as a critical term. According to Durkheim: ” A classification of all things, real and ideal, of which men think, into two classes or opposed groups, generally designated by two distinct terms which are translated well enough by the words profane and sacred (profane, sacre)”.4 But not common concept about its definition has developed still. So, doubts about its concept implementation on all religious studies has raised. Even Islam and Islamic culture are also silent to define it.

The word ”profane” means, ” at this semantic level, denotes the space that is not sacred or holy….and the indefinite, amorphous space around it. (And) outside or in front of the sacred enclosure extends the domain of ordinary objects and persons—the profane space”.5

There is an other definition of sacred to understand it :

”that which is set apart; a synonym of holy. It refers to that which belongs to God, the deity or supernatural as opposed to the secular or profane. The sacred person, object or place must always be treated as great care and respect. Often purification Rites must be performed before that which is sacred can be approached.”6

In above ”the sacred place” is the point which is to be discussed. The sacred and profane is explained by spacial categories like time, period, space, personalities etc. The sacred place or area or precinct has two levels ; Israelite level and Islamic or Arabian level. In Israelite level the concept of sacredness is started with the story of Prophet Moses (A.S). when he was standing before the tree and looking towards the glowing light, suddenly a voice appeared from Right-Hand* and asked him to be bear footed as it is a sacred place.

(إِنِّىٓ أَنَا۟ رَبُّكَ فَٱخۡلَعۡ نَعۡلَيۡكَ‌ۖ إِنَّكَ بِٱلۡوَادِ ٱلۡمُقَدَّسِ طُوً۬ى )1

Lo! I, even I, am thy Lord, So take off thy shoes, for lo! thou art in the holy valley of Tuwa.¤


The English word ”sacred” has different meanings in Arabic language. Different forms of words of Arabic root “h-r-m” is mainly used in English translation for ”sacred” as ”the sacred mosque” of the Qur’an ”AL-masjid Al-haram”.

Another Arabic root as ”sacred” to “q-d-s ” the meaning of this root is ”to make pure” or to removed impurity and imperfection. In sacred area, believers are prohibited to perform such activities that were allowable before. As “the degree of perfection or purity described by words of the root q-d-s is extraordinary”.2 The Qur’an signifies different places by this Arabic root like Ta’ha 20:12 and An-Naze’at 79:16 the valley of Tuwa is described by this root, is denoted by muqaddas.

As in the same time muqaddas has its synonyms or in relation with mubaraka3 in verse;

(يَـٰقَوۡمِ ٱدۡخُلُواْ ٱلۡأَرۡضَ ٱلۡمُقَدَّسَةَ ٱلَّتِى كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ)4

O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you

The word of sacred place which is bay’t-al-maqdis, has three meanings: First , the Jewish temple and Aqsa mosque; second the city of Jerusalem; third, the holy land (al-ard-al-muqaddasa) as a whole.5


As in different commentaries of Qur’an, commentators raised different points, the summary of these are as following: As Maulana Shafei and Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani said in his commentary of Qur’an : “the command to take off shoes was given because it was a sacred place and it was necessary to take off shoes to show it proper respect—(and) to remove his shoes was that the soles of his feet should come into contact with the soil of this hallowed place and be blessed thereby”6

And in his “Tafsir ul Qur’an” Maulana Majid Daryabadi reported, ”as a mark of humility and respect” (and) “among the Hebrews, it was a mark of reverence to cast off the shoes on approaching a sacred person or place” (and also) “the forms of divine worship in the Biblical epoch were …removing the shoes with treading on holy ground…” 1

According to my opinion, it may be possible that many places and things which seemed to be sacra-ted by Allah are because He has selected them for communication to His creature.

Durkheim says about the concept of sacredness,

Religious phenomena are naturally arranged in two fundamental categories: beliefs and rites”. (And) “the totality of these beliefs and their corresponding rites-constitutes a religion”2

And if these beliefs and rites are traditional then these(beliefs and rites) are sacred otherwise these are profane, because “their is no possibility of tradition without orthodoxy nor of orthodoxy outside of tradition”.3

1Inspired by Allama Inayat ullha khan Al-Mashraqi’s ‘Tadhkirah”.

2Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (Revised & Enlarged) , Harder & Brothers publishers, New York. p. no. 803

3Ibid, p. no. 739

4Durkheim, Emile, The Elementary Forms of religious Life, transl. By Joseph Ward Swain, Hollen street press LTD. London, fifth impression 1964, p. no. 37

5Brill Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, under article ”profane and sacred”, Publi. Brill, Leiden—Boston, vol. 3, p. no. 278

6Chopra, Ramesh, encyclopaedic dictionary of religion, Isha Books, Delhi, vol. 3

* Right hand is considered as the goodness and kindness both in Old-Testament and in New-Testament as well as in Qur’an. In Old-Testament right hand shows strength, strong arm and power. (Genesis 48:13-20), (Exodus 15:12) and (Isa 62:8). The term Shim’al and Yamin (left and right resp.) in Islam, also represent North and South (cardinal directions). In later Jewish source, the Devil is called Sama’el or Semie’l. And this might be possible that the Arabic word Shimal is similar to west Semitic Sim’al. And the Arabic word Sha’m or Al-sham as Syria has meaning of bad luck and misfortune. See Encyclopedia of Qur’an under article “LEFT HAND AND RIGHT HAND”, Vol. 3, p. no. 176

1Ta’ha 2o:12

¤Qur’an translation by Pickthall, Marmaduke.

2Encyclopedia of Qur’an, under article ”profane and sacred”, vol.4, p. no. 282

3Ibid, under article ”sacred precinct”, vol. 4, p. no. 513

4An Naze’at 5:21

5Encyclopedia of Qur’an, under article ”Jerusalem”, vol.3, p. no. 2

6See Ma’ariful Qur’an, vol.6, p. no. 83-84. and ”Tafsiir-e-Usmani”, vol.2 (English)

1 Daryabadi, Abdul Majid, maulana, TAFSIR UL QUR’AN, Islamic book foundation, Islamabad, Pakistan, vol. 3, p. no. 98.

2 See Emile Durkheim, “The elementary forms of religious life” p. no. 36

3 Nasr, Hossein, Seyyed, Knowledge and the Sacred, Suhail academy, chowk Urdu Bazaar, Lahore, Pakistan, 2nd edition, p. no. 79.



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