“A system of faith and worship”, that is how we define religion. Throughout history humans have been identified by their religion. It has taught us to respect certain superhumans or creators of the world, make others believe the same and defend their god at all costs through ethical means. The interpretation of a God’s teachings shapes how a religion develops, what practices it adopts, and how it propogates. But what does it actually give us in the real world? How can we uphold it’s true dignity?
Firstly, let’s bust the myth that culture and religion are the same. While religion is about faith, culture gives a moral perspective to us about the world like being compassionate towards everyone and so on. In the status quo however, religion has become a propaganda tool for many actors to meet personal inerests at others’ expense. Religion can initiate a war today, become a reason to risk thousands of lives and never let us address real world issues.
All these problems start with fatal manipulation and stereotyping a religious group’s practices as unholy, demonic, and a complete charade, a disgrace to their faith. This makes the believers of one religion clash with the other in an attempt to save their identity and culture. This slowly shapes into communal riots, terrorist attacks, etc. In the context of India and Pakistan, while we could have had a peaceful partition through a smooth and slow process, our leaders found it very convinient to conduct religious riots, finance terror groups and gangsters, etc; to achieve their goals faster. This hastiness paved the path for a present-day LOC at the Indo-Pakistan border constantly bombarded with wars.
This propaganda tool has also been exploited by all the politicians across the globe to secure their vote banks. In the US, a mass immigration crisis has been unfolding but the Democrats have used this opportunity to secure more votes in the future again using religion. In the Middle-east, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan again encouraged the Muslims across the world to carry out violent movements in their countries to force their Governments to break ties with France when Pesident Emmanuel Macron tried to curb Ismalic radicals from terrorizing French citizens. Besides these the farmer protests in India, Black Lives Matter movement in the US, etc; all have been used by radicals and politicians for their own benefit. But when it comes to act on these issues everyone falls short on their promises. We have even let these religious differences dominate the children’s minds making them bully their own classmates on grounds of religious beliefs, race, caste, etc.
And how can we forget groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda and Hamas who have always claimed to protect Islam. In reality however, no religion including Islam ever propagated violence in any manner. No culture prescribes it and these terror groups have systematically associated violence to this religion. Now instead of improving people’s life, innocent civilians are dying and Muslims across the world are being stereotyped as evil. Finally, when the Wuhan virus vaccines were being invented many leaders questioned the need to use them. Many refused to take them in the Islamic countries with the reason that animal components were used in their manufacuring and it is against their religion to use animal products. This was because religious institutions cound not stop playing politics over people’s life trying to portray themselves as protecters of Islam.
So, in the end we have a deeply divided world on countless religious lines while forgetting that Climate change, the Wuhan virus, poverty, etc; are destroying the world. Many people are trying to change the situation working out their differences to solve these issues. Religion is after all is just faith when what really matters is how much positivity and strength can we gather from our faith to bring happiness in this world. People need to instead realize how similar their cultures are. They picture a world where all differences are respected and where everyone strive together to protect the environment and each other from any danger.
We need to stop associating religion with war, distrust and ego. Only then can we uphold its dignity while also ensuring peace and prosperity for all. There will be no need for nuclear arsenals then, no lethal weapon systems to destroy our own kind, “Humans”. It is a world we dream about and which can be achieved through collective effort.