The Rules of Functionalism in the Study of Religion

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

al-Mustafa International University

Abstract

The functionalist approach to religion is among the approaches employed in the study and propagation of religion. The use of this approach can also be noted in religious sources. The important point, however, is what rules and criteria should govern this approach.
The proper use of this method can be instrumental in understanding religion and benefiting from, and propagating, religious teachings, whereas the arbitrary and improper use of this method can lead to misunderstanding religious teachings as well doctrinal and practical deviations in religious
matters.
By reflecting on the verses and narrations that allude to the functions of religious teachings and by rational contemplation, we conclude in this study that employing the functionalist approach requires taking certain rules and criteria into consideration, which include simultaneous consideration of worldly and otherworldly functions, paying attention to the primacy of otherworldly functions and the marginality of worldly functions, and eschewing functionalism in the purely theoretical realms of religion.

Keywords