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State and Religion

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State and Religion

Should religion or religious leaders have a role in governing a state? What should be the position of religion and religious laws in government? Many philosophers, such as, Ibn Sina and Zera Yacob have tried to answer these types of questions about religion and its relationship with governance of a state. In general, Ibn Sina supports a state which is governed according to divine laws and by a prophet, religious leader. He justifies a religious leader to lead people for developing people's spiritual happiness. In contrast, Zera Yacob does not approve a main position for religion in a state. He denies a role of religion and religious laws in government and does not justify a religious leader to rule people. Instead, he suggests laws made by people based on reason. Like Ibn Sina, many other philosophers have also described their own ideas to justify the combination of religion and the state. Reversely, many other philosophers like Zera Yacob find no reason for a role of religion in governing a state. Religion is about the spirit and personal beliefs of people in which the government should not get involved. Besides, the interpretation of a religion is so broad that if brought to government concern, it will generate conflicts between government and its people. The responsibility of a state is to maintain peace among the citizens not to cause conflicts. Therefore, for a peaceful and justified society and government, religion should be separate from the government of a state.

Prior to any other account, the religious laws should not be a part of the state's legal system because the integration between them will not be to the best interest of all the people in a state. Different responsibilities of religion and government and the diversity of religion in a single state will deny a very basic human right, freedom of thought or freedom of religion. For example, a government is in charge for the welfare of a society; therefore, it justifies the laws that lead to the maximum utility of the state and its people. Whereas, a religion is based on the virtuous side of actions and is concerned about the welfare of people's spirits and virtues, so a religion might justify the laws that are good in itself or is coming from God. Such as, if Shari 'a, the Islamic law, be a part of a state's legal system, it will completely deny women rights which Ibn Sina, as a supporter of religious laws, has also denied in many parts. Particularly, Islam, as an example, gives a man the right to marry more than one woman (Sina 117) which if made a part of the legal law will lead to unhappiness of the state's half population, the women, and make their lives difficult. Zera Yacob who denies the religious role in government says that one man marrying many women will be disproportionate in a society where there is equal number of one man with one woman (Yacob 35). Therefore, for the citizens' happiness and having a balanced society, the religious laws should not be integrated in the legal system of a state.

Moreover, religious laws should not be included in the legal system of a state is that it will deny people's own capability and freedom of thought. First, all the people in one country might not belief in only one religion and making one religion's laws a part of the legal system will reject all the other people's freedom of religion, beliefs and thought. Besides, as religion structures an individual's personal beliefs and way of thinking, it is limited to the choice of an individual not the government. Therefore, if a religion is a part of a government, it will become part of the law and forcing people in their personal beliefs will refusing people's freedom of thought. A government is justified when the citizens are given their rights and its laws are generally in the best interest of everyone. Therefore, it is difficult to defend the integration between religious law and a state's legal system.

Religion should not have a role in governance of a country because a state based on religion is not to the best interest of its citizens and will not thrive. Laws made by people works more effectively than the law of religion because it is for the people and people are agree with it by making them. For instance, there are different opinions about this topic. On the one hand, Ibn Sina claims that to rule people in a better way is to establish a government based on law of God and governed by prophet which people should obey God without questioning anything about religion and God himself. For example, he says, questioning "will simply confuse the religion....Their complaints and doubts will multiply, making it difficult for a man to control them" (114). He means that the descriptive knowledge will make people doubtful, so for having a good result people should not be allowed to ask lots of questions about God and religion but just to believe in what the prophet says. However, people can't and don't want to just believe in what a religious leader or prophet says because they cannot prove that what the prophet says is right and exactly what God wants. Besides, by questioning people find the truth and if God and religious laws are the real welfare of people, their questioning will lead them to the right meaning of it, not to confusing them. The concept of religion, what are good and what are bad, will only become clear and seem truth when it is questioned and investigated. Therefore, people will obey the absolute truth better than something they do not know the information or reason about. In concern with controlling people easily, when people get the truth, they will not doubt about what is right, so they will do good deeds without a need for a leader or a strict law to control them.

On the other hand, Zera Yacob does



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