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I awake each day, dressed in faith, ethics, beliefs, preparing myself to leave home with these morals clothing me. Like most girls’ favourite hair beret, my accessory is my hijab. It is my faith wrapped in small cloth. I wear it because I am coerced by religion, coerced by what is written in the holy Quran, coerced by the acknowledgement of God. Power is influence, and religion is the greatest influence that affects people.
This fabric covering my head is not a representation of compulsion from parents, but rather the influence of Islam upon me. This choice I made has been derived from my knowledge about Islam. People are usually influenced by taking an action or making a decision after gaining knowledge. This is how knowledge is power, because due to this knowledge one can make severe decisions in life.
When a person with power has dominance over you – parents, for example – they can govern your thoughts in certain ways. My parents believe religious values sustain the very core of civilization. They tell me I must learn my religion to become a better person as they believe religion teaches decency and morality. Religion tells me that God is all-knowing, thereby influencing me to watch my actions to make sure they’re “good,” and avoid wrong-doings. Religion is, of course, knowledge itself since to be able to follow my religion I must acquire its teachings and values. My actions are being watched by God, influencing my daily activities greatly.
However, my parents are not the only one credited for shaping my thoughts, but also my elder sister is capable of doing it. Sitting on the couch, eyes on TV, mind on thoughts, searching, observing, trying to occupy the eyes, the mind, and the boring environment as my sister walks towards me, each step getting closer, getting larger, broad shoulders blocking the view of everything in front, eclipsing my previous thoughts with her own. She explains passionately the importance of praying and builds fear of god through her knowledge, which makes me feel intimidated to do as she says.
Religion can limit freedom. Religion controls actions with a set of rules and guidelines, restricting the capability of faithful followers. An example is in Islam it is commanded to not eat pork or consume alcohol, preventing Muslims from eating it. This may be perceived positively or negatively, but either way, it certainly does have the power to make some people—if not all—to set course in a certain path.
Religion impacts human behaviour in every aspect of our lives by having to live by those codes, morals and rules. It is implanted in our brain that religion is how we think, how we act, how we choose. People usually tend to seek guidance from God if troubles exceed their capability. Complications influence. This would be during exam time, when suddenly a lot of my friends start praying to God, because only He can control the outcome of their marks. Meaning only He has control, they’ve just got prayers and efforts. This is how religious belief and practice emanates; religion influences humans by attempting to influence their lives to believe they hold no significant individual power.
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The fundamental impact of religion on human behaviour is the very act of worship. Praying is powerful because when you are in a state of prayer you are in control of your own thought and in your own being. It is a way escape of the world of stress to a world of sanctum where the rules are made only by you. Praying happens in your own privacy, where no one has control over that and no matter how physically, mentally, emotionally strong another person is they are not able to stop you from praying. And it is only in prayers that you have full control over your body and soul. That is the only time you feel powerful over the whole world because you can escape from it.
People without religion have been influenced by the over-whelming power of religion. This is because the moral standards that exist today in society, which are definitely shared by atheists and non-religious people, are a direct result of religion. In history, many acts were done routinely which would now be considered wrong even by the most Godless of people. An example of this would be incest. Incest was not uncommon among people of the past, but was explicitly banned by religion and labeled as an evil practice Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who does not consider incest to be wrong. Religious teachings, therefore, have influenced even people who do not believe in God by setting moral standards for the society.
Whether God created man or man invented God, religious beliefs has proven their potency of continually impacting human behaviour. It regulates the actions humans take to make better informed decisions. Religion is powerful because it does not only control one individual, but rather dominates clans, flocks, groups, and communities. Knowledge of religion and power are positively related, as knowledge increases, so does the power you have to control and influence.
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