Reza Aslan: Why I am a Muslim

Monday, 27 February 2017

As a writer and scholar of religions, I am often asked how, knowing all that I know about the religions of the world, I can still call myself a believer, let alone a Muslim.

It’s a reasonable question. Considering the role that religion so often plays in fueling conflicts abroad and inspiring bigotry at home, it is not always so easy to defend the value of religion in society. And, in a world in which reason and religion seem to be moving further apart, it is certainly understandable why so many people view religious faith as the hallmark of an irrational
Of course, as someone who has spent the better part of the last two decades studying the world’s religions — and having recently crisscrossed the globe for my new spiritual adventure series “Believer,” where I immerse myself in religious traditions both familiar and downright bizarre — I know better than to take the truth claims of any religion (including my own) too seriously.
But I also know this: Religion and faith are not the same thing.

‘A signpost to God’

Faith is mysterious and ineffable. It is an emotional, not necessarily a rational, experience.
Religion is a fairly recent human invention. But faith, as I have elsewhere argued, is embedded in our very evolution as human beings.