“Religion is not a departmental affair; it is neither mere thought, nor mere feeling, nor mere action; it is an expression of the whole man.”
Iqbal says that religion by its root is not just a ‘departmental affair’ rather it is superior to that in every sense, it is actually a belief that subjugates all the actions, notions and aspirations of man. It is not something traditional, not something limited, not something confined to a certain circle of rituals or practices, it is rather something that touches every aspect of human behavior and commands it according to its own will. As Allah says in the holy Quran that:
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ وَاتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلًا [4-125]
And who has a better religion than he who submits himself entirely to Allah? And he is the doer of good (to others) and follows the faith of Ibrahim, the upright one, and Allah took Ibrahim as a friend.
Submitting yourself to something is religion according to this verse. (And surely Allah Subhanawatala knows best)
It is indeed very disappointing that we as Muslim Ummah have taken the zeitgeist for religion as something that is very much confined in its influence, now we are left with only dogmas which we consider as religion while it is not like that. We don’t want to burn our dead why? Because it is not in our religion and we are ‘Muslims’ by religion and the rest of the things we do 24/7 are just taken for granted as being in islam. Actually what we do day and night and months and years and in our whole lives is our religion, what we strive for is our religion, and what we desire for is our religion.
Similarly, Iqbal says that religion is not a feeling or a thought as he goes on to explain the faith we have in our religion that:
"….Yet it cannot be denied that faith is more than mere feeling. It has something like a cognitive content, and the existence of rival parties— scholastics and mystics— in the history of religion shows that idea is a vital element in religion…."
After reading this I have to admit that what Karl Marx said about religion is again just a department of religion in general. In his very famous saying he says that:
“…Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people…”
Yes it might be that when a person is in danger or troubled he remembers Allah and he calls Him with humility and humbleness but when this troubled situation waivers, he again forgets Allah and again embraces the worldly gains and his previous beliefs as his religion.You know from history that the infidels of Makkah did this and did not deny that Allah alone was their creator but when it came to the question of subjugating their lives according to Allah's will and to give away what they had from world made them to flee from the teachings of Islam, they went back to their supposed religion.
In The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, Almustafa the most widely read English poet in the world after Shakespeare and Lao Tzu says says on the question of religion that:
“Have I spoken this day of aught else? Is not religion all deeds and all reflection…?”
Yes, definitely here Kahlil Gibran and Iqbal have the same voice about religion that it is all of our deeds and reflections. This is what Iqbal has rightly said about religion that it is the expression of the whole man. Now, it is up to us to decide what is our expression or our religion. Is it our own self that we have made our expression or is it the worldly gains or is it the country in which we live in is our expression or is it our family??? What Allah wants to be our religion is that:
إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ ذٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ [12-40]
He has commanded that you shall not serve aught but Him; this is the right religion but most people do not know.