Which is the “True” Religion?

Which is the “True” Religion?

There’s plenty of talk, or
rather, arguing, about this question. Millions of people have
died because they couldn’t see eye to eye on the true nature of
God, the universe, and the purpose of life. That’s what religion
is, in its simplest form: your opinion of what’s out there and
what you’re supposed to do about it.

Even members of the same
religion rarely share the same religion in this broad
definition. Because they have been raised in different families
or even cultures, their perceptions of life vary greatly. It’s
difficult to comprehend an understanding, patient God when your
own parents were never satisfied with your performance, quick to
punish and slow to congratulate. It’s difficult to feel loved
unconditionally by God when your own parents sent unconscious
messages that you were only accepted when you did what pleased
them. And so you may say that you believe in a perfect, loving
God, but deep inside, you really expect to feel His wrath more
often than His love.

Even if you belong to the
“true” church, if this does in fact exist, your own personal
religion is almost guaranteed to be flawed in many significant
ways. If you don’t know the full range of God’s love for you and
His willingness to help you, for example, you will never obtain
all the joy and blessings that ought to be yours.

And so the following
discussions will serve the atheist, the agnostic, and the
never-doubting disciple to hone their religion, to either
discover the truth or to bring your true feelings–your true
religion–closer to what you believe it should be.

Can all religions be true?

If there is a “true” religion, how do I find it and know when I

How do I make myself understand–in my heart–what I believe?

Can all Religions be True?

To usefully discuss this question, we first must choose a
meaning for the word “true.” You have three options:

In its broadest form, true
simply means that the religion is a religion–that it helps you
worship God, that it brings you blessings somehow in return.
This is the most basic level of all religions. For this type of
religion, you need no formal organization or dogma. All you
really need is your own heart and desires and hopefully a
whisper of the divine that you can listen to.

Getting more specific, true means that the religion teaches true
concepts. For example: that God exists, is powerful and loving,
that He is aware of us and wishes to help us, and that certain
things are required of us in return. These ideas are also basic
to nearly all world religions.

Next, we move into dogma. Dogma sometimes has a negative
connotation because it can imply that we stop at the logical
understanding of the nature of religion, that we don’t continue
on to letting them influence our lives, or that we simply take
someone else’s word for their truth without an honest
investigation ourselves. Nevertheless, religious “facts” will
influence our world- and religious views and even our faith.
They will give us peace and power and sometimes move it farther
from us.

Finally, in the most specific end of the scale, true means that
one organization (or many?) is specifically sanctioned by God
and that its teachings are more accurate than any others’.

If you accept number three, you must also accept one and
two–not that they are the ultimate meaning of truth, but that
they have measures of truth and validity.

If you accept number four,
your next step is to consider the following question:

If there is a “true”
religion, how do I find and recognize it?

Many people accept that the religion they were born into is
true. They have developed trust in it often because of having
experienced God’s power there in some way. This is not uncommon
to good people and others in any religion, and so is limited as
a means to discover “the” true religion.

Many accept a religion they
were converted to (or born into) is true, often because they
were explained the scriptural doctrine and it made sense. If
logical analysis alone were enough to clarify the truth, there
would be far fewer religions today. While many have strong
preferences to one point of view, the strength of various
viewpoints demonstrates the folly of relying wholly on logic and
personal interpretation as a means to secure truth.

There is a reason that God
left some ambiguity in the scriptures, and that is to force true
seekers of truth to search with their hearts. True conversion
can not take place only in the mind. The heart (and a humble one
at that) is required for us to fulfill the purpose of
religion–to become more like God: more loving, trusting,
powerful, wise, forgiving, patient, merciful, etc.

So there’s answer number
one: use your mind, study the scriptures and seek insight there.
Be humble and flexible just in case you picked up an incorrect
idea somewhere. Then pray for guidance (if you’re serious and
keep asking, guidance WILL come!) and watch for events around
you–don’t throw away a miracle or blessing because it’s not
what you expected to find.

Answer number two: God
expects you to do some of the work. Once you have studied out
the question, you can ask Him if you got it right. Galatians
5:22-23 gives you a clue to recognize when God is communicating
with you. You will often feel this confirmation with these
feelings: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, hoy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness,
temperance….” In other words, you feel His own attributes.

Be careful, once you have
your hands on one piece of truth, not to stop looking for more.
You don’t get this all in one shot, you know, and you’re
expected to continue growing and learning (a very pleasant
experience, though it often takes patience and trials to get
there) throughout your life. That is the meaning and purpose of

How do I make myself
understand what I believe?

Excellent question. It’s usually a lot easier to have an opinion
than to have faith, hope, and charity. To gain those things,
give them a try and ask God for help. Find ways to serve others.
Be patient. Forgive. Enjoy the beauty in the world around you.
Raise your children with love. By doing these things, you will
be participating in God’s own work–to help all His children to
grow healthy, strong, and good.

Here’s another excellent
thing to focus on: is your heart hard or soft? We often harden
our hearts to God because life is tough, we’re injured by
others, our faith is damaged because of the pain and suffering
we experience from an imperfect world and the cruelty of others.
We sometimes love our sins and pleasures more than we love God
and goodness (but if we only knew the sweetness that comes from
goodness!). Think of the parable of the sower and remove the
stones, break up the hard soil of your heart so that the seed
can spring up there and after it grows, you will easily enjoy
the sweet fruit it brings to your life!

The True Religion

by Dr. A. A. Bilal Philips (PhD. in Theology, Wales)

Which is the
True Religion of God?


Each person is born in a circumstance which is not of
his own choosing. The religion of his family or the
ideology of the state is thrust upon him from the very
beginning of his existence in this world. By the time he
reaches his teens, he is usually fully brain-washed into
believing that the beliefs of his particular society are
the correct beliefs that everyone should have. However,
when some people mature and are exposed to other
belief-systems, they begin to question the validity of
their own beliefs. The seekers of truth often reach a
point of confusion upon realizing that each and every
religion, sect, ideology and philosophy claims to be the
one and only correct way for man. Indeed they all
encourage people to good. So, which one is right? They
cannot all be right since each claims all others to be
wrong. Then how does the seeker of truth choose the
right way?

God gave us all minds and intellects to enable us to
make this crucial decision. It is the most important
decision in the life of a human being. Upon it depends
his future. Consequently, each and every one of us must
examine dispassionately the evidence presented and
choose what appears to be right until further evidence

Like every other religion or philosophy, Islam also
claims to be the one and only true way to God. In this
respect it is no different from other systems. This
booklet intends to provide some evidence for the
validity of that claim. However, it must always be kept
in mind that one can only determine the true path by
putting aside emotions and prejudices, which often blind
us to reality. Then, and only then, will we be able to
use our God-given intelligence and make a rational and
correct decision.

There are several arguments which may be advanced to
support Islam’s claim to be the true religion of God.
The following are only three of the most obvious. The
first argument is based on the Divine origin of the
names of the religion and the comprehensiveness of its
meaning. The second deals with the unique and
uncomplicated teachings concerning the relationship
between God, man, and creation. The third argument
derives from the fact that Islam is universally
attainable by all men at all times. These are the three
basic components of what logic and reason dictate
necessary for a religion to be considered the true
religion of God. The following pages will develop these
concepts in some detail.

The Religion’s Name


The first thing that one should know and clearly
understand about Islam is what the word “Islam” itself
means. The Arabic word “Islam” means the submission or
surrender of one’s will to the only true God, known in
Arabic as “Allah”. One who submits his will to God is
termed in Arabic a “Muslim”. The religion of Islam is
not named after a person or people, nor was it decided
by a later generation of man, as in the case of
Christianity which was named after Jesus Christ (p),
Buddhism after Gautama Buddha, Confucianism after
Confucius, Marxism after Karl Marx, Judaism after the
tribe of Judah, and Hinduism after the Hindus. Islam
(submission to the will of God) is the religion which
was given to Adam (p), the first man and the first
prophet of God, and it was the religion of all the
prophets sent by Allah to mankind. Further, its name was
chosen by God Himself and clearly mentioned in the final
scripture which He revealed to man. In the final
revelation, called the Qur’an in Arabic, Allah states
the following:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you,
completed My favour upon you, and I have chosen for
you Islam as you religion.”
(Qur’an 5:3)

“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam
(submission to God), never will it be accepted of
(Qur’an 3:85)

Hence, Islam does not claim to be a new religion
brought by Prophet Muhammad (p) into Arabia in the
seventh century, but rather to be a re-expression in its
final form of the true religion of Almighty God, Allah,
as it was originally revealed to Adam (p) and subsequent

At this point we might comment briefly on two other
religions that claim to be the true path. Nowhere in the
Bible will you find God revealing to Prophet Moses’ (p)
people or their descendants that their religion is
called Judaism, or to the followers of Christ (p) that
their religion is called Christianity. In other words,
the names “Judaism” and “Christianity” had no divine
origin or approval. It was not until long after his
departure that the name “Christianity” was given to
Jesus’ (p) religion.

What, then, was Jesus’ (p) religion in actual fact,
as distinct from its name? His religion was reflected in
his teachings, which he urged his followers to accept as
guiding principles in their relationship with God. In
Islam, Jesus (p) is a prophet sent by Allah and his
Arabic name is Eesa. Like the prophets before him, he
called upon the people to surrender their will to the
will of God (which is what Islam stands for). For
example, in the New Testament, it is stated that Jesus
(p) taught his followers to pray to God as follows:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, may
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Luke 11:2; Matt. 6:9-10)

This concept was emphasized by Jesus (p) in a number
of his statements recorded in the Gospels. He taught,
for example, that only those who submitted would inherit

Jesus (p) also pointed out that he himself submitted
to the will of God.

“None of those who call me ‘Lord’ will enter the
kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will
of my Father in heaven.”
(Matt. 7:21)

“I cannot do anything of myself. I judge as I
hear and my judgment is honest because I am not
seeking my own will but the will of Him Who sent
(John 5:30)

There are many reports in the Gospels which show that
Jesus (p) made it clear to his followers that he was not
the one true God. For example, when speaking about the
final Hour, he said:

“No one knows about the Day or Hour, not even the
angels in heaven, not the son, but only the Father.”

(Mark 13:32)

Thus, Jesus (p) like the prophets before him and the
one who came after him, taught the religion of Islam:
submission to the will of the One true God.

God and Creation


Since the total submission of one’s will to God
represents the essence of worship, the basic message of
God’s divine religion, Islam, is the worship of God
alone. It also requires the avoidance of worship
directed to any person, place or thing other than God.
Since everything other than God, the Creator of all
things, is God’s creation, it may be said that Islam, in
essence, calls man away from worship of creation and
invites him to worship only his Creator. He is the only
one deserving of man’s worship, because it is only by
His will that prayers are answered.

Accordingly, if a man prays to a tree and his prayers
are answered, it is not the tree that answered his
prayers but God, Who allows the circumstances prayed for
to take place. One might say, “That is obvious”;
however, to tree-worshipers, it might not be so.
Similarly, prayers to Jesus (p), Buddha, Krishna, St.
Christopher, St. Jude, or even to Muhammad (p), are not
answered by them, but are answered by God. Jesus (p) did
not tell his followers to worship him but to worship
God, as the Qur’an states:

“And behold! Allah will say: ‘O Jesus, the son of
Mary! Did you say to men, worship me and my mother
as gods besides Allah?’; He will say: ‘Glory to you,
I could never say what I had no right (to say)'”

(Qur’an 5:116)

Nor did Jesus (p) worship himself when he worshiped,
but rather he worshiped God. And Jesus (p) was reported
in the Gospels to have said:

“It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and
serve Him only.'”
(Luke 4:8)

The basic principle is contained in the opening
chapter of the Qur’an, known as Surah al-Fatihah, verse

“You alone do we worship and from you alone do we
seek help.”

Elsewhere in the final book of revelation, the
Qur’an, God also said:

“And your Lord says: ‘Call on Me and I will
answer your (prayer).'”
(Qur’an 40:60)

It is worth emphasizing that the basic message of
Islam (namely, the worship of God alone) also proclaims
that God and His creation are distinctly different
entities. God is neither equal to His creation nor a
part of it, nor is His creation equal to Him or a part
of Him.

This might seem obvious, but man’s worship of
creation, instead of the Creator, is to a large degree
based on ignorance, or neglect, of this concept. It is
the belief that the essence of God is everywhere in His
creation or that His divine being is or was present in
some parts of His creation, which has provided
justification for the worship of God’s creation and
naming it the worship of God. However, the message of
Islam, as brought by the prophets of God, is to worship
only God and to avoid the worship of His creation either
directly or indirectly.

In the Qur’an, God clearly states:

“For We assuredly sent amongst every people a
prophet, with the command: Worship Me and avoid
false gods.”
(Qur’an 16:36)

When idol worshipers are questioned as to why they
bow down to idols created by men, the invariable reply
is that they are not actually worshiping the stone
image, but God Who is present within it. They claim that
the stone idol is only a focal point for God’s essence
and is not in itself God! One who has accepted the
concept of God being present in any way within His
creation will be obliged to accept this argument for
idolatry. Whereas, one who understands the basic message
of Islam and its implications would never agree to
idolatry no matter how it is rationalized.

Those who have claimed divinity for themselves down
through the ages have often based their claims on the
mistaken belief that God is present in man. Taking one
step further, they claim that God is more present in
them than the rest of us, and that other humans should
therefore submit to them and worship them as God in
person or as God concentrated within their persons.
Similarly, those who have asserted the godhood of others
after their deaths have found fertile ground among those
who accept the false belief of God’s presence in man.

It should be abundantly clear by now that one who has
grasped the basic message of Islam and its implications
could never agree to worship another human being under
any circumstance. God’s religion, in essence, is a clear
call to the worship of the Creator and the rejection of
creation-worship in any form. This is the meaning of the
motto of Islam:

Laa ilaaha illaa Allah” (there is no god but

The sincere declaration of this phrase and the
acceptance of prophethood automatically brings one
within the fold of Islam, and sincere belief in it
guarrantees one Paradise. Thus, the final Prophet of
Islam (p) is reported to have said:

“Any one who says ‘There is no god but Allah’,
and dies holding that (belief) will enter Paradise.”

Belief in this declaration of faith requires that one
submit his/her will to God in the way taught by the
prophets of God. It also requires the believer to give
up the worship of false gods.

The Message of False Religions



There are so many sects, cults, religions,
philosophies, and movements in the world, all which
claim to be the right way or the only true path to God!
How can one determine which one is correct or whether,
in fact, all are correct? One method by which the answer
can be found is to clear away the superficial
differences in the teachings of the various claimants to
the ultimate truth, and identify the central object of
worship upon which they call, directly or indirectly.
False religions all have in common one basic concept
with regard to God: they either claim that all men are
gods, or that specific men were God, or that nature is
God, or that God is a figment of man’s imagination.

Thus, it may be stated that the basic message of
false religion is that God may be worshiped in the form
of His creation. False religions invite man to the
worship of creation by calling the creation or some
aspect of it God. For example, prophet Jesus (p) invited
his followers to worship God, but those who claim to be
Jesus’ followers today call people to worship Jesus (p),
claiming that he was God.

Buddha was a reformer who introduced a number of
humanistic principles in the religion of India. He did
not claim to be God, nor did he suggest to his followers
that he be an object of worship. Yet today most
Buddhists who are to be found outside of India have
taken him to be God and they prostrate themselves to
idols made in their perception of his likeness.

By using the principle of identifying the object of
worship, we can easily detect false religions and the
contrived nature of their origin. As God said in the

“That which you worship besides Him are only
names and you and your forefathers have invented for
which Allah has sent down no authority; the command
belongs only to Allah: He has command that you
worship Him; that is the right religion, but most
men do not understand.”
(Qur’an 12:40)

It may be argued that all religions teach good
things, so why should it matter which one we follow? The
reply is that all false religions teach the greatest
evil: the worship of creation. Creation-worship is the
greatest sin that man can commit because it contradicts
the very purpose of His creation. Man was created to
worship God alone as Allah has explicitly stated in the

“I have only created jinns and men, that they may
worship Me.”
(Qur’an 51:56)

Consequently, the worship of creation, which is the
essence of idolatry, is the only unforgivable sin. One
who dies in this state of idolatry has sealed his fate
in the next life. This is not an option, but a revealed
fact stated by God in His final revelation to man:

“Verily Allah will not forgive the joining of
partners with Him, but He may forgive (sins) less
than that for whomsoever He wishes.”

Universality of God’s Religion



Since the consequences of following a false religion
are so grave, the true religion of God must have been
universally understandable and universally attainable in
the past and it must continue eternally to be
understandable and attainable throughout the entire
world. In other words, the true religion of God cannot
be confined to any one people, place, or period of time.
Nor is it logical that such a religion should impose
conditions that have nothing to do with the relationship
of man with God, such as baptism, or belief in man as a
savior, or an intermediary. Within the central principle
of Islam and its definition (the surrender of one’s will
to God) lie the roots of Islam’s universality. Whenever
man comes to the realization that God is one and
distinct from His creation, and submits himself to God,
he becomes a Muslim in body and spirit and is eligible
for paradise.

Consequently, anyone at any time in the most remote
regions of the world can become Muslim, a follower of
God’s religion, Islam, be merely rejecting the worship
of creation and turning to God alone. It should be
noted, however, that in order to actually submit to
God’s will, one must continually choose between right
and wrong. Indeed, man is endowed by God with the power
not only to distinguish right from wrong but also to
choose between them. These God-given powers carry with
them an important responsibility, namely, that man is
answerable to God for the choices he makes. It follows,
then, that man should try his utmost to do good and
avoid evil. These concepts are expressed in the final
revelation as follows:

“Verily, those who believe (in the Qur’an), and
those who follow the Jewish faith, and the
Christians, and the Sabians (angel-and-star
worshipers) – any of these who believe in Allah and
the Last Day and work righteousness shall have their
reward with their Lord. They will not be overcome by
fear or grief.”
(Qur’an 2:62)

If, for whatever reason, they fail to accept the
final message after it has been clearly explained to
them, they will be in grave danger. The last Prophet

“Whoever among the Christians and Jews hears of
me but does not affirm his belief in what I brought
and dies in that state will be among the inhabitants
of Hell.”
(Sahih Muslim [English Translation],
Vol.1 P.91 No.284)

Recognition of God



The question which arises here is: How can all people
be expected to believe in the one true God, given their
varying backgrounds, societies and cultures? For people
to be held responsible for worshipping the one true God,
they all need to have access to knowledge of him. The
final revelation teaches that all human beings have the
recognition of the one true God imprinted on their souls
as a part of their very nature with which they are

In the seventh chapter of the Qur’an (Al-A’raaf,
verses 172-173),God explained that when He created Adam
He caused all of Adam’s descentants to come into
existence and He took a pledge from them saying:

“‘Am I not your Lord?’ To which they all replied,
‘Yes, we testify to it.'”

Allah then explained why He had all of mankind bear
witness that He is their creator and the only true God
worthy of worship. He said:

“That was in case you (mankind) should say on the
Day of Resurrection, ‘Verily we were unaware of all
(Qur’an 7:172)

That is to say, we cannot claim on that Day that we
had no idea that Allah was our God and that no one told
us that we were supposed to worship Allah alone. Allah
went on to further explain that:

“It was also in case you should say, ‘Certainly
it was our ancestors who made partners (with Allah)
and we are only their descendants; will You then
destroy us for what those liars did?'”

Thus, every child is born with a natural belief in
God and an in-born inclination to worship Him alone.
This in-born belief and inclination is called in Arabic
the “Fitrah”.

The Prophet Muhammad reported that Allah said, “I
created my servants in the right religion, but devils
made them go astray.”
The Prophet also said,
“Each child is born in a state of Fitrah. Then his
parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian.”

If the child were left alone, he would worship God in
his own way, but all children are affected by the
environment. So, just as the child submits to the
physical laws which Allah has imposed on nature, in the
same way his soul also submits naturally to the fact
that Allah is his Lord and Creator. But, if his parents
try to make him follow a different path, the child is
not strong enough in the early stages of his life to
resist or oppose the will of his parents. In such cases,
the religion which the child follows is one of custom
and upbringing, and God does not hold him to account or
punish him for his religion up to a certain stage of his

The Signs of God


Throughout people’s lives, from childhood until the
time they die, signs of the one and only true God are
shown to them in all regions of the earth and in their
own souls, until it becomes clear that there is only one
true God (Allah). God says in the Qur’an:

“We will show them our signs in the furthest
regions (of the earth) and in their souls, until it
becomes clear to them that this is the truth.”

(Qur’an 41:53)

The following is an example of God revealing by a
sign to one man the error of his idol-worship. In the
south-eastern region of the Amazon jungle in Brazil,
South America, a primitive tribe erected a new hut to
house their man-idol Skwatch, representing the supreme
God of all creation. The following day a young man
entered the hut to pay homage to the God, and while he
was in prostration to what he had been taught was his
Creator and Sustainer, a mangy old flea-ridden dog slunk
into the hut. The young man looked up in time to see the
dog lift his hind leg and pass urine on the idol.
Outraged, the youth chased the dog out of the temple,
but when his rage died down he realized that the idol
could not be the Lord of the Universe. God must be
elsewhere, he concluded. As strange as it may seem, the
dog urinating on the idol was a sign from God for that
young man. This sign contained the divine message that
what he was worshiping was false. It liberated him from
slavishly following his traditionally learned worship of
a false god. As a result, this man was given a choice:
either to seek the true God or to continue in the error
of his ways.

Allah mentions Prophet Abraham’s quest for God as an
example of how those who follow His signs will be
rightly guided:

“So also did We show Abraham the power and the
Laws of the heavens and the earth that he might
(with understanding) have certitude.

When the night covered him over, he saw a star.
He said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set, he
said: ‘I love not those that set.’

When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said:
‘This is my Lord.’ But when the moon set, he said:
‘Unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among
those who go astray.’

When he saw the rising sun in splendor, he said:

‘This is my Lord, this is the greatest (of all).’
But when the sun set, he said: ‘O my people! I am
indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to

For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly,
towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth,
and never shall I give partners to Allah.'”


(Qur’an 6:75-79)

As was mentioned earlier, prophets have been sent to
every nation and tribe to support man’s natural belief
in God and man’s in-born inclination to worship Him, as
well as to reinforce the divine truth in the daily signs
revealed by God. Although much of these prophets’
teachings became distorted, portions revealing their
God-inspired messages have remained untainted and have
served to guide mankind in the choice between right and
wrong. The influence of God-inspired messages down
through the ages can be seen in the “Ten Commandments”
of Judaisn’s Torah which were later adopted into
Christianity’s teachings, as well as in the existence of
laws against murder, stealing and adultery in most
societies throughout the ancient and modern world.

As a result of God’s signs to mankind through the
ages combined with His revelation through His prophets,
all mankind has been given a chance to recognize the one
and only true God.

Consequently, every soul will be held accountable for
its belief in God and its acceptance of the true
religion of God, namely Islam, which means total
submission to the will of Allah.




The preceding presentation has demonstrated that the
name of the religion of Islam expresses Islam’s most
central principle, submission to God, and that the name
“Islam” was chosen not by man, but by God, according to
the holy scriptures of Islam. It has also been shown
that Islam alone teaches the uniqueness of God and His
attributes and enjoins the worship of God alone without
intermediaries. Finally, due to the divinely instilled
inclination of man to worship God and the signs revealed
by God throughout the ages to each individual, Islam may
be achieved by all men at all times.

In short, the significance of the name Islam
(submission to God), is Islam’s fundamental
acknowledgement of the uniqueness of God and Islam’s
accessibility to all mankind at all times convincingly
support Islam’s claim that from the beginning of time in
whatever language it was expressed, Islam alone has been
and will be the true religion of God.

In conclusion we ask Allah, the Exalted, to keep us
on the right path to which He has guided us, and to
bestow on us His blessings and mercy, for He is indeed
the Most-Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the
worlds, and peace and blessings be on Prophet Muhammad
and all the prophets of God and their righteous





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