By Zaira Ashraf Khan
Religion, due to its overwhelming adherence and devotion has been a subject of debate, not just among the theists but also the atheists (obviously for more of a critical reason in latter). Especially in an era of modernism, religion is despised and abominated for being irrational and supposedly impeding human desire in leading lives according to their own whims resulting in an attempt to shift the paradigm from the law of the creator to the law of the creation, land, nation, country and the fascist government.
Stage is set, discussions held, books composed on the subject and presented in a very derogatory and satirical tone. Religion and religiosity has becomes talk of the town for the most heinous and unhealthy practices. It is ridiculed and mocked at for being a delusion and insanity, by some (like Richard Dawkins); in fact even looking religious in any form or conduct sends cautionary signals. We see that this entire discourse of religious phobia, started with skepticism and snowballed into sheer intolerance and non- acceptance among the society. So for them, the counter argument to growing religious dominance (by certain sections of society) lied in denouncing religion from the very basic grounds.
Should religion be blamed?
The blame game of demeaning religion for irreligious actions is the like of extinguishing the source of light and expecting enlightenment. One such attempt is made by newly elected President of United States of America, Donald Trump when he barred immigrants from Muslim countries in a bid to eradicate terrorism. None of the episodes of nuclear holocaust in Iraq, growing Hinduvta regime in India, ISIS in Iraq and Syria is a product of religion. Then why blame it? Rather it is the irreligiosity, failure in adherence to the divine scriptures and incompetence in upholding the moral character responsible for such disarray.
We should not forget that this is an age where consumption of narcotics, drugs, and alcohol beverages has become a ubiquitous lifestyle causing more deaths and has acted as a sink for the huge investments which could had been used for other areas like enhancing the education system and eradication of poverty. Not to mention billions of dollars invested in the cosmetic industry.
Here Religion comes to our rescue in putting things into perspective , in defining our purpose of life and our role as a khalifah (vicegerent of Creator on earth) and a Human being.
Religion transforms our attitude from being callous to being compassionate, from miserliness to generosity, from ferociousness to moderation and from being unproductive to being constructive. It not only disciplines our life but also enable us to practice restrain. The characteristics of piety and responding evil with good are only born from religious convictions. This balance of body and soul is attained through continuous medication and contemplation (e.g Prayers five times a day in Islam).
Moreover religion instills a sense of gratitude, and wards off arrogance. Qur’an says, “”So let man contemplate on from what he is created!”(Qur’an – 86:5) ” .It also states “Let the human being think about (how We produce) his food.” (Qur’an 80:24). A mere mention of God does not only fill one with gratitude but also prevents from extravagance and ungratefulness to the blessings of Creator.
Religion has been misunderstood as an irrational and fallacious doctrine which does not encourage questioning. In fact in my view, there is no other book parallel to religious scripture that responds to the rationality of a human being. There are ample verses in Qur’an that stimulates art of reasoning in its reader.
Religion not only helps fighting anxiety but also directs us in the worse possible situations and facilitates our connection with the divine being thus shielding us from the detrimental effects of our own evil actions.
Lastly, the response to growing extremism and intolerance towards the religiosity is that we need to understand that it is the absence of religion that escalates violence and chaos and only in it lies our salvation. Further, as human beings we are bound to submit. Now the question lies in the entity of submission. For some it is Creator for others the creation. And for atheists it is their own self and desires. It is the love for the creator that breeds compassion for the creation whereas love for one’s self-interests breeds ego-centricism that is quite evident in the world today where a human blood costs nothing. The war against religion is futile and absurd. Rather attempt should be made in promoting real religious and ethical values by educating masses more about their scriptures. Because it is only by associating with the source of peace, that peace can be restored in this devastated planet.
(Zaira is Research Scholar, University of Kashmir and Assistant Professor, Department of Islamic Studies, Government College for Women, M.A Road. Ideas expressed are author’s own)