Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Religion, Politics and Truth


Dhaka killed Avijit Roy because he encouraged people to think for themselves, think freely and rationally.  Saudi Arabia is threatening to kill Raif Badawi, another blogger who, like Avijit Roy, used his rational faculty to analyse and understand his religion as well as his life.

Roy and Badawi are just two examples of people who are martyred for being rational and sane.  For the crime of thinking freely and honestly.

Badawi was originally sentenced to a decade in prison and 1000 lashes on the charge that he insulted Islam.  Now the charge has been modified as “renouncing Islam” the punishment for which is execution. 

Why can’t a person question his religion?  Why can’t he give up his religion if he finds it unsuitable for him? 

The most terrible irony is that we live in a world driven by science and technology but our sentiments are still mortgaged to antique belief systems.  Why do people find it difficult to break themselves free from the shackles of obscure and obsolete beliefs and rituals?

Perhaps, it’s not at all about beliefs and rituals.  Perhaps, it’s all about politics and power.  We should not forget the strong relationship that existed between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America: one an ultraconservative Islamic absolute monarchy, and the other a secular, democratic republic.  True, of late there have been some differences between the two countries.  Yet for years they cooperated with each other for achieving various political objectives, though religion-wise they were radically opposed to each other.

If religion can be sidelined for the sake of political objectives, why can’t rational and sane questions against it be tolerated?  The answer is obvious: what the religious leaders are interested in is not the truth but political power.   Politics and religion have been handmaidens to each other throughout the history of mankind.  We find the current Indian politics too trying to make use of religion for ignoble political purposes.


10 comments:

  1. All that madness is to gain power.. But why don't these power hungry people fail to acknowledge the fragility of life.. If nobody can become immortal then what is the extent of power they are seeking? The only answer to it - such people are just ignorant fools.. that explains the state of the world today..

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    1. Roohi, do they have a heart? Every power-hungry person is blinded with his passion. It's a kind of madness, as you say yourself.

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  2. People at times just fail to understand how much politics interferes in religious matters and then such people continue to do stupid things under the pretext of religion.

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    1. I think we can classify people into two categories: (1) they understand everything but are wicked or insane; and (2) the stupid people who think religion is the truth or who blindly follow anyone who claims to bring them religious truths.

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  3. You raise some very valid questions but sadly, there are no answers to these.

    As far as USA is concerned, even though its constitutionally secular, I find it's politics and judiciary riddled with religion, even more than India. Republicans are proudly Christians first, find separation of the Church and government abhorrent and find it completely to sane to say that God asked them to run for Presidency !
    Also, the relations between USA and Saudi were totally selfish and for oil. Religion had nothing to do with it!

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    1. America is a bundle of contradictions and paradoxes. They are staunch supporters and users of science and technology but there are hardcore religious fundamentalists (Christians) among them. They can support democracy or dictatorship as required by expediency. They let all sorts of people into their country and then practise racism!

      India is more tolerant, perhaps, when compared with that. But the fundamentalist elements are on the rise. It's not only the RSS and its Bhagwat; there are quite many people who have become blind with religious passions these days in India. Let's also not forget the Aseemanands and Pragya Thakus of yesterday who are now languishing in prisons but have spoken on record about the roles played by even Narendra Modi in spreading communal hatred in the country.

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  4. Very good post. It is sad that power makes people blind and they can push back seemingly conflicting matters like religion. However same entities cannot bear opposition or questioning of same religion that they opportunistically push back. :(

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    1. History has enough lessons to show that religion was used for political purposes and not at all for spiritual purposes by people who had political ambitions. The problem is when some of the followers of such people perceive contradictions. For example, there might have been some RSS members who wished really to make India a Hindu Rashtra and hence voted for Modi. But now Modi is playing a different tune because he has got what he wanted (the PM's chair and not a Hindu Rashtra!).

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  5. Religion grows by feeding off the fear in people. Concepts like hell, apostasy, curses are all designed to make people cower in silence before the 'almighty'. Politicians use this fear to gain power. Unless people come out of this God-delusion, there is no stopping politicians taking advantage of people's fear of god.

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    1. God Delusion. I'm reminded of Richard Dawkins. Yes, religion is a delusion. God is the super drug. Our present leaders and their cronies are peddling that drug generously. The tragedy is not that peddling but how the people are being hoodwinked increasingly by it.

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