Lecture: The Origin of Religion

By the Grace of Allah the Almighty, Jamia Ahmadiyya UK hosted its fourth guest lecture over zoom. The lecture was delivered by Respected Umar Nasser Sahib. Umar Nasser Sahib is the Chair of ‘Rational Religion,’ which is a platform of the National Department for Outreach and Public Relations (National Tabligh Department UK). This platform aims to prove that science and religion are reconcilable. Umar Sahib has previously had the honour to serve as the President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Student Association, or AMSA.

The lecture was delivered on the topic ‘The Origin of Religion’. Being a very academic individual, Umar Sahib helped shed his knowledge on this matter in an excellent manner.

The session began with the recitation of the Holy Quran and translation delivered by Ehsan Ahmad Sahib. The lecture began with Umar Sahib highlighting the main question which was whether religion evolved or not. He lightly touched upon the views of secularists and scientists who believe that religion had evolved. “Intellectuals believe that religion is full of holes,” he said. He then went on to state the Islamic belief in which he stated, “All religions had a prophetic foundation and that Islam did not dismiss any religion.” Umar sahib presented the argument that religions prior to Islam were all started by prophets who had been sent to establish belief in the Oneness of God. As a result of this, two main ideologies formed: the first being religion coming from ‘Above’ or through God, and the second being religion coming from ‘Man’, or through human invention. The latter idea dates at least back to the 17th century, from the Philosopher David Hume.

Umar Sahib deeply explored the teachings of Hume’s work “The Natural History of Religion” and explained how Hume had believed in the idea that all religions started as polytheistic religions and had eventually evolved into monotheistic religions. He also presented the view that the oldest religions in the world are polytheistic. Umar sahib then refuted this view and presented arguments of how religions had started off as monotheistic religions, and had eventually turned into polytheistic religions. Umar sahib presented a wonderful argument of how if one travels around the world today, many similarities are found in all religions across the world, and many of them, if not all of them, believe in a transcendental being, with judgement awaiting them after their death. Umar Sahib emphatically raised the question: “How was it possible that so many societies across the world which were all split apart geographically, believed in such similar ideas?” 

Umar Sahib then greatly delved into the different world religions of today, and highlighted and showed that they were monotheistic religions at first, and then later changed into polytheistic religions. Some examples are Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. Buddhism’s journey from monotheism to pseudo-atheism was also discussed. Umar sahib greatly emphasised the importance of reading Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad’s rhabbreviation for "May Allah have mercy on him/her/them" book ‘Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth’,  in which His Holiness has greatly mentioned the history and importance of understanding the origin of religions.

The lecture concluded with students having the opportunity to ask Umar Sahib questions regarding the matter, and the session concluded with silent prayer.