Saturday, 18 December 2010

Whose religion is it anyway?

Picture of Babri Masjid, before its demolition by Hindutva forces in 2002.

Religious tolerance is one subject I have always wanted to discuss. Though it may touch a raw nerve, I have to agree with one thing, religious tolerance stems from upbringing of an individual. We had been brought up by a lady for whom kindness stands above religion. To early man, religion was a way of life, something that could teach him the moral and social responsibility. As centuries passed on, vested interests found the line of religion very convincing to channelise public opinions in someone’s favor or against it. Even today, religion is a mere cloak for many, to save their hides.The seeds of religious intolerance took root during the Crusades and have been growing by leaps and bounds now. Radicalism in all religions seems to be a fashion statement today. Indian urban middle class is a classic example of religious and class tolerance. Right from childhood, we had immense interest in Hinduism and Islam,being born into devout Catholic Christian family. To us, all festivals were fine, so long as we got new dresses, sweets from friends and crackers to have fun. Diwali, Eid and Christmas were equally intriguing to us then. But my heart had wept at the Babri demolition, Staines murder, Godhra riots and numerous such incidents that happen in India, though ours is a Secular, Democratic Republic. I am afraid if these fanciful captions hold the sheen anymore.


Picture of Gladys Staines, wife of  Christian Missionary Graham Staines wo was burnt to death along with his children in 1999. Now an active Missionary, Ms Staines has forgiven the murderer of her husband and her two children.

Picture of Bilkis Bano, who was gangraped by 14 men during the Godhra carnage. She was then 20 years old, six months pregnant. Her 3 year old daughter was killed in front of her eyes, head smashed on a boulder. 20 of her relatives were killed on that fateful night of Godhra riots. To me, she is a real fighter, a woman of immense courage who has fought the legal and moral battles together with aplomb.

I would not say that minorities have less or limited rights than their Hindu counterparts in India. Atleast we are allowed to practice our own religion in peace. But there are some who play with this tender thread of peace by acting as Messaiahs, Prophesizing the Dooms Day. We can see thousands of such new Churches springing up, who are again playing with religious cards. As for the Muslims of our nation, there are some who peacefully co-exist with the others. Most of the earning members work in Gulf, raking in much needed foreign exchange. But there are many who remain still jobless, direction less and fall an easy victim to Separatists. Hate mongering becomes easy nowadays through media and the net. As for Islam and Christian unity, the issue has global ramifications. The poor light with which the West depicts the Muslim world and the pure hate that results from this negative portrayal is the root cause for the mistrust among us. And based on this mistrust, and generalising a religion for a social flaw, we simply ignore the other person’s religion and its values. This is why the Muslim world is more rigid in not allowing people of other religions practice their birth right to religion. Religion is not a game that we play to find the winner. He who is more tolerant with kindness and compassion wins any game.

Anyone who has recited all the three Abrahamic Holy Scriptures- The Holy Quran, The Holy Bible and the Holy Torah can certainly understand that all these must have come from The same source but mildly abridged. They all speak about the Formation of Universe, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, The Noah Flood, the Holy lives of Abraham, lives of Job, Moses, David, Solomon and even the description of John, Mary and Jesus. Even the descriptions of the Day of Judgement, Revelations and Life Herein after remain the same, though with slight changes. The Holy Torah talks about the arrival of both the Messengers of God- Massiha ( Jesus) and Comforter ( The Prophet Muhammed).

When our own religious scriptures have such similarity, where has all this hatred sprung up? Religious tolerance is the need of the hour. The Bible rightfully says- " The fruit of Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. Against such things there is no law"- Galatians, . The Qur'an too promotes love and mercy among humans, ""And among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts); verily in that are signs for those who reflect." Chapter 30, Verse 21. Spreading the kindness and love is what our God wants, that will certainly be His message to all of us in such troubled times. Let us not seek differences and difficulties for our future generations. Let all our children live in love and peace. After all, WE WORSHIP THE SAME GOD.

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