amazes me how religion can foster so much hatred. Instead
of being a spiritual relationship between man and God, religion
has become a "weapon of mass destruction" all over
the world-- a fight to see which faith is stronger, whose
God is more powerful, which religion is better, which can
annihilate the other first. Throughout history we have seen
the violence that is carried out in the name of religion.
Starting from the crucifixion of Christ, to the Crusades,
the Holocaust, the battles between Jews and Muslims in Palestine,
the attacks on the twin towers on September 11th, the violence
in India between Hindus and Muslims leading to bloody killings
in Gujrat in 2002 and finally, more relevant to us, the brutality
against Ahmadiyyas and the recent grenade attacks on an Awami
League political rally on August 21st, all seem to stem from
religious tensions and intolerance.
strange that religion has become such a loaded term. I used
to believe that religion stood for spiritual guidance, discipline
and hope. Being a child made me gullible, apparently. Now,
I am more inclined to think that religion is a tool that is
used by some to mobilise masses and emotionally blackmail
people. For some leaders, religion is a political instrument
that forces people to take sides and fight battles that don't
necessarily need to be fought.
not religion, however, that has moved masses to kill and conquer.
It is not religion itself that we should blame for these violent
acts. It is not religion that we need to target to subjugate.
It is fear. It is a fear that is ingrained in many people
-- the fear of accepting differences in beliefs that may challenge
our set mind-frames and lifestyles.
is this fear of anything outside the comfortable mold that
we have shaped for ourselves, which is dividing our country.
Instead of fighting outside forces, we are killing our own
people. What many people tend to forget, however, is that
there are different ways of reaching the ultimate goal of
spiritual one-ness with God and humanity. No matter what religion
we are, we all share the same space and love for our country
-- enough to reside in it and call it home. So basically,
on a scale of one to ten, the Bangladeshi "umma"
scores a zero on unity. We tend to forget the bigger picture
-- that rather than fight about political and religious differences
we should focus on tackling more important issues such as
poverty, hunger and corruption.
bigger picture seems irrelevant when people are literally
being blown to pieces -- and for what? For speaking their
minds? For disagreeing with certain beliefs that other groups
hold? For not being the same? For not thinking exactly like
one another? I always thought Bangladesh was founded on the
belief that religion alone cannot make a nation, which is
why we separated from Pakistan in the first place. Why then,
are we insisting on trying to homogenise our nation? Why are
we violating our own civil rights? Why is power more important
than innocent human lives? And why is this all being done
in the name of Islam?
absolutely nothing, condones these grave acts of violence
against innocent people. The Muslim response is usually that
these acts are a reaction to the threat Islam is facing from
global paranoia, which further feeds our fear and insecurities.
However, not even the racial profiling against Muslims is
an acceptable and viable excuse for the August massacre in
Bangladesh -- or any terrorist killing, for that matter. Because
this is a never-ending circle, a Russian roulette game of
who fires the first shot and who makes the first move. The
question is how many people will be sacrificed for this unworthy
and misguided cause before we actually find peace and harmony
among our own?
(R) thedailystar.net 2004