Deen and Religion | The Difference

Deen and Religion

The Difference

Usually Deen and religion are thought to have the same meaning but there is a difference between the two. What is Deen? What do we call religion?


Literal meaning of Deen is belief, abstinence, reward, revenge, prayer and sect.

Its actual meaning is a complete code of life and system of obedience. It includes complete guidance for different parts of life such as beliefs, prayers and ethics.

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said “Deen is the name of reward of good and bad”. (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says about Deen:

  • Deen covers every type of worldly matter whether Individual, collective, political or social.
  • Deen means to strive to recognise man’s essence, and work hard to attain that level.

A religious scholar defines Deen as:

  • Deen is a collection of six things: Belief, prayer, cultural norms, financial, economic and political system.

Therefore, Deen is a complete, authentic reality. And it is the system from Allah that He bestowed upon the creation through prophets. Deen is the system which is pure and complete in every field of life and a complete code of life.


Religion does not have an exact defined state due to difference in beliefs and practices and its scattered form.

  • Professor Liaquat Ali Azeem says about Deen in his book “A comparative study of religions”: Religion is a path to walk on”.
  • Alfred North Whitehead writes, defining religion: “Religion is a case of decision. It is identified and understood by practical reasoning. Meaning we should do certain things or act in a certain way.
  • Amolia Ranjan Mohapatra defines religion as: The art of living through appropriate action is religion.
  • Matthew Arnold writes about religion: Religions are nothing more than morals overdone with emotions.

Hence religion is not a complete code of life. It is only a part of Deen

Difference between Religion and Deen

We differentiate between religion and Deen with the following points:

  • Deen is a system of Divine Oneness and is free of Polytheism. So Deen is pure Oneness whereas religion can include polytheism too. For example, the concept of Trinity in Christianity and Trimurti in Hinduism.
  • It is compulsory to believe in all prophets in Deen while those who follow different religions believe in some and deny others. For example Hinduism, Buddhism and African Traditional Religion.
  • Deen gives much importance to beliefs while people treat them as partial and non-Islamic in religion.
  • Deen guides every person as it is a complete code of life and includes all ethical and social aspects of life. On the contrary, there is no such concept in religion. Religion does not have these privileges.
  • In Deen, Guidance in practical life is possible only through prophets. Because religions are man-made, guidance in them for practical life comes from common knowledge.
  • Deen is a system from Allah that remain unchanged from Prophet Adam (ra) all the way through to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). That is why there was no difference in their teachings. While there is difference in teachings in religions.
  • Since Deen is from Allah, its leaders are among the chosen, truthful and sincere ones. And so nothing can change until the Day of Judgement. Whereas religions are not from Allah. Hence their leaders change it according to their own selfish needs.
  • Everyone is equal in Deen except people of piety. Because they are at the highest level due to having blessing of the Vision of Allah. Prophets, martyres, honest and righteous people are people of piety. Whereas people do not have same rights in religion because of difference in caste, colour, race, etc. For example Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras are not equal in Hinduism.

Types of Deen

Allah sent prophets in every era to guide people. They preached Oneness of Allah. There was a prophet for every nation to lead them. When Allah sent the seal of prophethood – Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), his teachings were not for any single nation, rather they are for everyone who will be born till the judgement day. Allah Almighty included teachings of all prior Divine books in Islam and chose it as the complete Deen for humanity.

But there are still three Deens:

  1. Islam
  2. Christianity
  3. Judaism

Allah is one and unparalleled. Then how is it possible that there is no unity in His teachings? The core message in every Deen is same. But unfortunately, the guardians of Deen changed its real shape and so Christianity and Judaism still exist.

Islam is the Only Complete Authentic Religion

Without a doubt, today everyone knows that not only did Allah send His last message (the Quran) through the Holy Prophet (pbuh), but He also took the responsibility to safeguard it. As Allah says in the Quran:

  • Assuredly, We alone have revealed the Quran and surely We alone will guard it. (15:9)

Al-Qurtubi writes:

  • Abu al-Hassan relates from Yahya ibn al-Qasim that Al-Ma’mun used to hold gatherings to share knowledge. One day, a Jew came into his gathering wearing very nice clothes. He talked very well. After the gathering, Al-Ma’mun asked him if he was Israeli. He answered yes. Then Al-Ma’mun said: If you become a Muslim, I will give to you a lot of reward and riches. The Jew refused saying: “This is my and my ancestors’ religion.”

Then, a year later the same man came into Al-Ma’mun’s court as a Muslim. When Al-Ma’mun asked him the reason for converting he answered “When I returned from your gathering I thought I should test these religions. First I intended to distort the Torah. I wrote three copies and changed some things and then went into Jews. They bought them from me. I repeated the same process with the Bible and the Christians bought the distorted versions too. Lastly, I tried the same with the Quran. I wrote three distorted versions and went to an Islamic library. They read and examined it. When they found my distortions they gave it back and did not buy. Thus, I learned that this book is under Divine protection and no one can change it. And this is the reason of my conversion.”

Yahya ibn al-Qasim confirmed this. And there is affirmation in the Quran that Allah entrusted safety of Torah and Gospel into their respective scholars’ hands.

Allah trusted the scholars for protection of Holy Books

Allah said:

“Indeed, We revealed the Torah wherein was guidance and light. In accordance with that the messengers who were the obedient (servants of Allah) used to give orders to the Jews. And the diviners (i.e their spiritual masters) and the rabbis (also judged in accordance with that) because they were assigned to safeguard the Book of Allah and they were the guardians of it.” (5:44)

This verse says that Allah trusted the Jews and Christians with their respective Holy Books. But Allah Himself is the guardian of the Holy Quran. (al-Jami’ al Ahkam al-Quran, part 10, p. 6-7, published by Dar Al Fikr Al Lubnani in 1415 AH)

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said “If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected.” (Sahih al-Bukhari-2697)

There is only one Deen in every era and all other are religions. Islam is a Deen that encompasses every part of life. Allah says:

  • Truly, Islam is the only Deen in Allah’s sight. (3:19)
  • And whoever seeks a Deen other than Islam that shall not at all be accepted from him, and he will be amongst the losers in the hereafter. (3:85)
Reality of Islam

Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen describes the reality of Islam as such:

The real foundation of Islam is devotion, sincerity and ardent love for Almighty Allah and Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). And following all the outward and inward aspects of his life. Contrarily, nowadays people focus on following only the outward aspects of his life. If religion was based merely on the physical deeds then prayers, fasts, zakat etc. would have been made compulsory right after the sacred Companions of Prophet Mohammad accepted Islam. But we see that all such physical worships became obligatory after the Holy Prophet’s migration to Medina. Before that, the religion of sacred companions was only the ardent love and loyalty for their beloved Prophet. Their prayer was the vision of the sacred countenance of holy Prophet. And their fasting was patience against the oppression of infidels

Physical aspects of Islam are all prayers, beliefs, and teachings of shariah. Whereas its spiritual aspects mean the reason for all the prayers, which are eternal presence in the Mohammadan Assembly as Prophet Mohammad is watching every Momin and Muslim, gaining Divine Vision and Closeness and travelling the path of Divine Gnosis with the help of shariah.

Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani says:

  • The one who claims to worship Allah without recognising Him is a hypocrite. (Sirr al-Asrar)

Sultan Bahoo says:

  • Hence, it is clear that Divine Union and Closeness can rarely be gained by physical worships and outward good deeds. A Saint said: No doubt! Offering salat, recitation of Quran, performing Hajj and paying zakat are good deeds but the marvel of a true seeker of Allah is to reach the ultimate destination (i.e. union with Allah)(Sultan-ul-Waham)
Spiritual aspects of Islam

We can say about the spiritual aspects of Islam that one needs to believe in oneness of Allah inwardly in order to fully and completely enter Islam. This means that physically, his tongue recites Islamic creed (Kalima Tayyiba). While he spiritually believes that Allah is the only God, He is alone in His Essence and attributes. Rule, control and power are His. Divine Closeness can only be gained through inward affirmation. Similarly, the main aim of all prayers and social and administrative affairs, control and power should be gaining Divine Oneness, Closeness and Vision. This reality of Islam is called Faqr. And this is the Faqr that not only Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) recommended but was also proud of.

Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says:
  • Those who saw Prophet Mohammad in the state of faith are called the sacred Companions. The fellow contemporaries of the sacred Companions who got education from them are called Tabi’un. While, the fellows of generation after Tabi’un who got education from them are called Tabi-Tabi’un. These three groups are the triumphant because they were blessed with the true essence of religion i.e. the Divine vision. The true religion based on the Divine vision remained common till the generation after the contemporaries of the sacred Companions. After that it was separated from the religion based on outward deeds and the former continued in the form of spiritual orders. Those on the path of Faqr follow the religion based on Divine vision while the religious literati follow the religion based on outward deeds. Faqr is the true religion. The religion of outward deeds can be attained from the books and that of Divine vision from perfect Fakirs. It is only through the benevolence of these perfect Fakirs that the seekers get presence in Mohammadan Assembly where they are blessed with the privilege of seeing the sacred countenance of Prophet Mohammad and reach the station of annihilation in Allah.

Seeker of the path of Faqr follows Islam physically and spiritually in every aspect of his life, keeping Allah’s Will at highest priority and with inward affirmation. Faqr strengthens seeker’s belief in Oneness of Allah. Because of which Allah blesses him with sincerity, loyalty, humility, punctuality of shariah’s orders, complete certainty, and faith in Allah.

Faqr was given highest priority in Prophet Mohammad’s (pbuh) life. The People of Cloak adopted Faqr. Imam Hussain (ra) made eternal and unparalleled history by shedding his own blood in Karbala and immortalised Islam.

Perfect Fakirs and Islam

Allah says:

  • And with regard to adopting the Deen, who can be better than the one who submits his whole being entirely to Allah, whilst he also holds spiritual excellence, and persistently follows the Deen of Ibrahim (Abraham) upright? And Allah had taken Ibrahim for a sincere and intimate friend. (4:125)

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) are the people who will be in the company of those whom Allah has blessed with His favour: the Prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the most pious. And how excellent these companions are! (4:69)

One can gain the beneficence of Islam only through perfect Fakirs now. Hadith:

  • Asmaa bint Yazeed ibn Al-Sakan said that she had heard the Holy Prophet (pbuh) saying “Shall I tell you who is better among you?” The Companions replied ‘Oh Prophet of Allah (pbuh)! Please do.’ Then he said “The people better among you are the ones upon seeing whom others will remember Allah.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

Surely the perfect Fakirs are the representatives and revivers of Deen.

Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen says:

  • Of all the religious movements in the history of Islam, the movement of spiritual orders has been the strongest, most credible and successful as well as having long lasting effects. This is because it is related with the inward i.e. with the gnosis and nearness to Allah which directly touches the soul. Islam has an esoteric as well as an exoteric aspect. Sharia is the exoteric while mysticism (Sufism or Faqr) is the esoteric aspect which leads to the path of Divine reality and gnosis of Allah.
Sarwari Qadri Order

In all orders of mysticism, Sarwari Qadri Order is the most superior. All great spiritual guides of Sarwari Qadri Order elevated Islam in their respective eras. For example Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani started a series of sermons for the advancement of Islam. And as a result, thousands of seekers of truth found Divine Gnosis.

The great Fakir of this order, Sultan Bahoo authored 140 eternal books on the knowledge of Divine Gnosis. Even now, these books enlighten the inward of people who read with respect, true intentions and ethics. Moreover, he spread the treasure of Faqr by going to different villages for good of mankind and to take them to extreme level of Divine Closeness.

When this order reached Sultan ul Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali, he spread the teachings of Faqr even further. He passed on the gift of Faqr, in his life, onto his true spiritual successor, real lover and confidant Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen. And for the guidance of mankind with the order and permission of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). He said to Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen “Now Ism-e-Allah Zaat and Ism-e-Mohammad are your responsibility.”

The promotion of Deen developed with the development in technology. Only the real spiritual successor of Deen transfers it from the previous era to current era in its truest form. His intention is the betterment of Allah’s creation because that was the way of the prophets. These perfect Fakirs are the vicegerent of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who follow his footsteps for the revival of Deen. They are called perfect spiritual guides and Fakirs.


In the present era, the great Fakir upon whom Allah has bestowed Faqr of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman. He is the 31st Shaikh of the Sarwari Qadri Order. He has made the soul of Islam – Faqr, easy to gain for Allah’s creation and has written 24 books on Faqr and Sufism. In the history of Faqr and Sufism, for the first time, he started granting Ism-e-Allah Zaat and Ism-e-Mohammad to common people. This speaks for itself as evidence of his extremely exalted spiritual level. He has revolutionised Faqr by utilising all modern social media platforms. Seekers of Allah who reap the benefits of Ism-e-Allah Zaat and Ism-e-Mohammad in Sultan-ul-Ashiqeen’s presence not only follow Deen physically and spiritually, but they also enlighten their inwards with the blessings of closeness and eternal presence in the Mohammadan Assembly. This is real success.

We invite everyone to adopt company of Sultan ul Ashiqeen so that they may complete their Deen which is the journey from shariah to Divine Closeness.

Ans: Deen is a system of Divine Oneness and is free of Polytheism. So Deen is pure Oneness whereas religion can include polytheism along with Oneness. For example, the concept of Trinity in Christianity and Trimurti in Hinduism. It is compulsory to believe in all prophets in Deen while those who follow different religions believe in some and deny others. For example Hinduism, Buddhism and African Traditional Religion. Deen gives much more importance to beliefs while they are treated as partial and not necessary in religion. Deen guides every person as it is a complete code of life and includes all ethical and social aspects of life. On the contrary, there is no such concept in religion. Religion is deprived of these privileges.

Ans: Islam is the true religion. Allah says:

  • Truly, Islam is the only Deen in Allah’s sight. (3:19)
  • And whoever seeks a Deen other than Islam that shall not at all be accepted from him, and he will be amongst the losers in the hereafter. (3:85)

This blog is English translation of an Urdu article of the magazine “Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr Lahore” for the month of November, 2021. The title of the Urdu article is:

Deen aur Mazhab mei faqr ( دین اور مذہب میں فرق ).

Originally penned by Aneela Yaseen Sarwari Qadri from Lahore is presently translated in English by Mohammad Bin Moghees Sarwari Qadri.

Leave Your Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tehreek Dawat e Faqr Copyright 2024 - All Rights Reserved

Eid al-Adha