Some people would say that any religion is better than none. Any acknowledgement of God is better than rejecting him. I would say, it depends. For one thing it depends on what sort of God you follow. What are his demands and expectations, how does he frame the good? My last two posts have been about Islam which is the second most followed religion in the world, reaching about 25% of humanity. There are many good things in Islam such as faith in God, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage, the so called 5 pillars. These are undoubtedly beneficial to the soul on a certain level, turning it away from worldly preoccupation and setting it facing the spiritual world. But in the form in which they are presented and followed they are good for child souls, souls who need external and strict guidance, souls who have not yet separated from the herd. They are not so good for more developed souls who are beginning to take spiritual responsibility for themselves and who seek something more than a codified, outward form of religion. Then they become restrictive. Sufism was provided for such souls but it never really established itself other than on the peripheries of the Muslim world, and was often condemned by the mainstream as heretical.
If Islam is to become a spiritually positive force in the world instead of being the largely negative force it often is then it must change. But first of all, why negative? For reasons already given. It is intellectually and morally one-dimensional and restrictive. It functions as a rigid and unbending, therefore not open to creative growth, system for people who are relatively undeveloped, both mentally and spiritually. So, although it is good for souls on a certain level, it forces the mind into a small box from which it is forbidden to escape. It is closed off to the fresh, revivifying winds of spirit having ordained that the whole truth was spoken once and for all 1400 years ago. Nothing can ever change from that.
But that is not all. Islam must renounce its intellectual and political territorial ambitions and its religious exclusivism. Like Marxism, it is a totalitarian ideology, one that demands complete control and absolute authority. It has sought to propagate itself through violence and this is sanctioned in its source texts. It must completely abandon that aspect of its supposed mission and stick to the 5 pillars. But that is not all either. Even these 5 pillars must be seen in a different light, as signposts to inner understanding rather than rules and regulations to be followed without thought. In religion there is an outer path and an inner path. Islam has always given the outer path even more importance than most other religions and goodness knows that this is a fault common to them all. Christianity has been guilty of the same thing though, I would maintain, to a lesser extent.
Islam was born in warfare and it spread through the sword. One cannot pretend otherwise. This aspect of its heritage must be completely renounced if it is to serve the will of God, but that will be very difficult because it will mean a radical reinterpretation of its core beliefs and an acceptance that its prophet was not the perfect image of a man they say he was. Jesus said he did not come to bring peace but a sword, but quite obviously he meant by this the sword of truth which separates truth from lies, good from evil, love from hate. He also said those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Unfortunately, it is the second usage that Islam has followed.
In the days when I studied the various mystical traditions I found Sufism one of the most interesting, full of wisdom and insight and including many souls of great spiritual power and authority. Sufism contains the inner principles behind Islam and interprets the fairly simplistic injunctions of the Qur'an on a genuinely spiritual level. Muslims who wish to be closer to the guiding impulse behind their faith should explore Sufi teachings more deeply and give up once and for all the intolerant political side of the religion. They should also know that Islam is not and never was intended for the West. Those who try to enforce it on Western countries are not doing the will of God but going directly against it