Short Answer: To live life in a good way, you need Guidance, which comes from God. If you have no religion, you follow your greed or lust; or your guide is your ego. At any rate, you may be acting on the basis of what you imagine to be good. Much depends on your psychology, your IQ or whatever. On the other hand, a believer follows Divine Guidance, which defines what is good or bad; and he is guided to live life in a really good way.
Thank you for your questions and for contacting Ask About Islam.
The mindset behind your questions, I am afraid, is one of hopeless pessimism.
But a Muslim believes in Allah Almighty as his Rabb (Guardian and Protector); so he cannot afford to be pessimistic.
The first point to raise is: Why doesn’t the questioner see the numerous beacons of progress and peace shining forth even from the midst of utter darkness?
True, innocent men, women and children are being massacred in Syria, Palestine and elsewhere. But can’t one see the immense sacrifice and service rendered by brave people in order to save the lives of humans? They get nothing for this sacrifice in a material sense: the only reward they get is from Allah alone.
Human Freedom & Responsibility
As has been repeatedly stated in these pages, Allah has created man as His ambassador on earth; which means that man is gifted with a number of creative faculties as well as the freedom to use them.
Man’s use of his faculties can raise him to a level higher than that of angels; or lower him to a level beneath animals. It is up to him to work for his own welfare or his ruin: This is the test.
And if man passes this test, eternal happiness in Paradise is the reward, which is not a small prize, to merit which the ordeal humans have to encounter is also not small.
But Allah is never unjust in the least. He will more than compensate man for all the hardships and torments he undergoes. That is His unfailing promise.
The Story of Prophet Moses & Al-Khidr
But man is ever hasty, impatient. This aspect of the human character is clearly demonstrated in a story given in Surat Al-Kahf of the Quran:
Prophet Musa is presented in the story as an impatient person, whom Allah wants to teach the lesson of patience. He is directed to follow a blessed servant of Allah (called Khidr in later narrations) who is gifted with special wisdom from Him. And to Musa, Khidr said:
“Behold, you will never be able to have patience with me; for how could you be patient about something that you cannot comprehend within the compass of (your) experience?”
And Musa replied: “You will find me patient, if God so wills; and I shall not disobey you in anything!”
Then Khidr said: “Well, then, if you are to follow me, do not question me about anything [that I may do] until I myself give you an account thereof.” (Quran 18:67–70)
Soon they were given free voyage on a ship. When they were aboard, Khidr took an axe and damaged the side of the ship. Musa protested that Khidr had indeed done a grievous thing.
Khidr said: “Did I not tell you that you will never be able to have patience with me?” (Quran 18:72)
Musa was apologetic; he promised that he would be patient henceforth.
On the shore, they observed a young boy playing. Khidr without any provocation killed the boy. Musa was appalled and questioned Khidr about it.
Again, Khidr reprimanded him about his impatience, and Musa realized he had violated his trust. He pleaded to excuse him again.
The Final Straw
Then they came to a village, where they requested the people for food and shelter, which they refused. On departing from the place, they saw a wall which was on the point of collapse. Khidr began repairing the wall; he set it up again. Prophet Musa was outraged: he said to Khidr:
“Had you so wished, surely you could [at least] have obtained some payment for it?” (Quran 18:77)
And Khidr said: “This is the parting of ways between me and you. [And now] I shall let you know the real meaning of all [those events] that you were unable to bear with patience.” (Quran 18:78)
Khidr explained the reasons behind these seemingly senseless acts:
Understanding What Happened
As for the ship, it belonged to certain poor people working on the sea. And because there was a pirate king who was seizing every ship by force, Khidr wished to save that ship by inflicting a defect on it, which would save those poor persons’ livelihood.
About the killing of the innocent boy Khidr said: he would grow up into a terrible criminal in his later life; and to prevent the atrocities he would commit, it was necessary to kill him. As for their parents, Allah would bless them with a righteous child worthy of the parents.
As for the wall, there was under it a treasure that belonged to two poor boys. Their father had been a virtuous man. Allah intended that the treasure should be safe until the boys attained maturity and came by it as a mercy from Him.
The wisdom behind those apparently senseless acts was such; and Khidr had been acting by Allah’s own commands.
Two Important Lessons
We learn two important lessons from the story:
One, Allah’s plan often works in ways that are beyond our immediate comprehension.
Two, all apparently unjustifiable events in our life and the world have their own reasons which only Allah knows, and they will be clear to us only in the final reckoning.
As is repeatedly made clear in the Quran, Allah does not do even the least bit of injustice:
“Verily, God does not wrong [anyone] by as much as an atom’s weight..” (Quran 4:40)
Sincere faith in Allah strengthens our hope in His promise given in the Holy Quran.
You ask: “do I need a religion or a God to live life in a good way?”
To live life in a good way, you need Guidance, which comes from God. If you have no religion, you follow your greed or lust; or your guide is your ego.
At any rate, you may be acting on the basis of what you imagine to be good. Much depends on your psychology, your IQ or whatever.
On the other hand, a believer follows Divine Guidance, which defines what is good or bad; and he is guided to live life in a really good way.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
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