Friday, April 4, 2008

Religion - Destructive or Beautiful?

Its been awhile since I've written anything here...
I've been quite busy and honestly don't even know if this actually gets read.
I'm just about to end a 3 week holiday, where the last week was an unofficial holiday where we have no classes but are expected to be working.

Last night something interesting happened which has inspired me enough to direct me to this page and write.

I had a conversation with X. An individual who happens to go to my university and is on my course. He is a few years older than I am (not that it seems to matter).

The conversation was about religion.
He was claiming that religion is destructive and is the main cause of many wrong doings around the world today. I didn't disagree with the fact that it was the root of many violating acts but I couldn't agree that religion was only destructive and not constructive.

Before moving to the UK i had never met anyone who was not labeled either a Muslim or a Christian. Many had embraced their labels and others we're not that bothered but would still refer to their label when asked.
I had also never met someone who (openly) didn't believe in anything. Not just that they didn't associate themselves with a particular religion but that they simply didn't believe in anything divine in any shape or form.

However at the end of the day i personally believe that religion is something personal, between one and God and no one has the right to intervene. Which is why I don't believe in governments forbidding people from doing things which according to one religion is wrong. You provide people with an education (supposedly) and you make them aware of whats going on and then you give them the choice. To clarify I'm talking bout things such as drinking or what to wear or dare i say pre-marital sex.
At the end of the day if you do these things and when the time comes and this world ends, it turns out to have been wrong and you were not supposed to have done it then its you whose getting punished and not anyone else. As long as you are aware of the choice you're making its none of anyone's business. However you can't apply this way of thought to killing since its not personal anymore.

Ive gotten a bit sidetracked now.

I agree religion can be destructive, especially when people are constantly manipulating it and taking advantage of it to validate their personal agendas and have helped create the hostile world we live in today where people are taking away their lives as well as others in the name of religion. However, thats not purely religion, thats political religion. One must learn to differentiate between the two.

To one it may seem ridiculous to believe in a specific scripture that is "ancient" according to some and they can not comprehend why the creator of this universe would take out the time to send down a few pages to Earth. Or why his "messages" were only received in or around one part of the world and not North/South America?

But to others religion is a source of hope. Their faith is what drives them through the obstacles of life. Think about people living in areas of war, women who have had their sons, their brothers, their husband, their fathers killed by people who have no right to even be in their country. Faith keeps them going through all that. Religion can be such a beautiful thing if its done right.
Now this "correct way" of handling religion is quite subjective. But most people can agree on what is extremism and what is moderation. It wont be a clear cut point, more like a scale where certain boundaries are drawn identifying what is what.
When religion is something personal, between one and God, how can that harm anyone?

If you take a look at all the basics of the religions of the world, you'll find that they are almost all the same.
Be good to your neighbor, don't kill, give to the poor and the needy....

These all seem like codes of conduct to me, moral values, common sense. Now whats the harm in believing and following these? It should actually make the world a better place....
However people manipulating religion and taking advantage of vulnerable people, often lacking good education and use religion as a tool for their personal advantage. Resulting in the violence and hostility we see around us today.

X used an example of how tolerating religion is also wrong. He said of how a Jewish Rabi used to circumcise young boys and would suck the foreskin off with his mouth and in doing so, he gave genital herpes to several babies. But because of people tolerating religion, individuals of authority couldn't do anything about it as it was associated with religion. He claimed that in my tolerating religion I am supporting such an act as I am supporting those who kill in the name of religion. However it ain't so!
The same way that in some countries (Egypt included) people have their daughters undergo female genital circumcision and mutilation in the name of religion. But believing in religion doesnt have to mean that one supports these acts!

Now something I simply couldn't understand, was why would someone who had no beliefs, actively try to break down the beliefs of others. I mean I understand if one has different beliefs to another individual and they are trying to explain how things differ to them or maybe even convince them into believing what they believe but why try to completely erase someones beliefs and have them not believe in anything at all..? What are you afraid of? No matter how absurd or ridiculous my beliefs maybe to others why would you try to erase it and leave me with nothing? Why would you try so hard to stop me believing or to prove that its wrong to believe?

Anyhow I personally have no problems with any religions and have been dealing with people of all backgrounds and all faiths (or no faiths). And I believe that religion is personal and at the end of the day each person is judged according to their own actions and not anyone else's... and its no one else's position to judge the other...


Tarek said...

Very good post, and I really liked this part the most:

"I didn't disagree with the fact that it was the root of many violating acts but I couldn't agree that religion was only destructive and not constructive".

The problem is that the huge effect religion have on people, is always appealing for others to hijack it and use it to control people, or even whole nations.

- said...

however if religion is not manipulated for personal agendas or for political use then it can be a beautiful thing...

just because the world has misused - abused - religion doesnt mean that religion itself is bad!

Glad you enjoyed the post