The apparent differences between religions arise from their external expressions, such as doctrines, dogmas, and rituals. These external expressions are only a means to an end that is spiritual awakening – the knowledge of one’s own true divine nature.
Sri Krishna, as the embodiment of transcendental Reality, says in the Bhagavad Gita: “In whatever way people worship Me, I receive them accordingly; all people are struggling through different paths which in the end lead to Me (the Divine).”
So, it is not which religion one chooses, but rather how one lives one’s life based on spiritual values like truth, nonviolence and unselfishness.
Before making a choice, one should study the world’s religions and learn about each religion’s inner spirit and see how that would lead to one’s spiritual growth. Exclusiveness and blind faith are not conducive to one’s spiritual growth as this can lead to fanaticism, hatred and even violence toward other faiths.
Religion is not a mechanical process governed by indoctrination. It is a dynamic process that expands one’s consciousness, deepens one’s spiritual awareness and brings meaning to one’s life, ultimately leading to spiritual realization – the goal of all religions. Only then will religion be a blessing to oneself and society.
Nowadays, there are too many religions, and people tend to belong to religious groups they were born into and accept those beliefs. So how do we decide which is the best religion?
Muslims believe that all messages revealed by God are the same. It carries the same meaning, which is to worship God and to be good to others. Unfortunately, people have the tendency to manipulate and introduce changes to religions to make them fit their earthly desires and agendas, which leads to gradually changing the essence of the faith.
That is one of the main reasons that God sent one prophet after another. When the introduced changes deviate the faith from the main objective, God reminds people again by sending another prophet to take them back to the same original message. Jesus came after Moses to confirm the law, not to change it, and so does Mohammad when he came after Jesus (peace be upon all of them). Now, how do we know that the faith was original or changed?
First, we must recognize that claims of truth from various religions can be evaluated. In other words, if a religion claims that it began at a certain time and place, historical investigation can be used to determine whether the claim is accurate. Second, we must be open to where the evidence leads, even when it leads to a place that does not fit our preconceived bias.
Third, as you explore, it will help to be tolerant of other viewpoints and understand the relevance of religious convictions. Fourth, the claims of a belief system must logically cohere to each other and not contradict in any way. Fifth, is there rational evidence to support the belief system? Sixth, the belief system should address the big questions of life: why we were created and what happens after we die.
The process of seeking the right faith can be tough and time-consuming. While searching, keep in mind the following points: 1. If you are sincerely asking God to guide you, he will. 2. Don’t look at the behavior of the followers of the faith, rather the faith itself. 3. Visit the house of worship and attend some religious services. 4. Try to practice some rituals of that faith. 5. Read the book of that faith, and 6. Make sure that the faith concurs with our nature as human beings.
Religion is humans’ attempt at being perfect and assuring themselves a place in heaven. Visiting those who are sick, caring for and about the homeless, looking after orphans and widows, being good to parents and neighbors, helping the poor, weak and in need are just some elements of the purest religion.