Religion vs. Humanity
I stumbled upon this talk at a time when I, once again, denounced religion in utter frustration with dogma’s and religious intolerance.
I am born a muslim, in a religious family. I am deeply spiritual. Yet I have struggled with religious dogma for as long as I can remember. In my teenage years, I went in search of peace – looking into other religions, reading their books, talking to their people, religious leaders and it was an amazing experience.
I remember sitting in a small Ram-Krishna mission temple, with inscriptions from all religions around the walls inside, talking to the leading Purohit. He quoted the bible, the quran, the bhagabat gita, the torah. We talked about the centrality of compassion and how ultimately all religions preached the same essential message: “be a good human being first”, “treat others as you want to be treated”. I had the same conversations in churches, in guruduwara’s, in prayer circles, in self-help groups.
I felt alone. a misfit, when I started my search, only to discover that I am not alone. In a world gone crazy on religious dogma, others are denouncing the hate-speech, the privileges accorded to chosen people vs. infidels or disbelievers. Books are guides, the lives of the prophets who preached them are sign posts. Yet as a society we are so fixated on literal translations and interpretations by others that we chose to ignore the very first command passed to Prophet Muhammad by Jibreel / Gabriel (AS)… “read, in the name of your Lord”. While the prophet has encouraged people to travel to China to gain knowledge, we have mullahs preaching that women should not educated because their place is only at home. Had the prophet been gender biased, his wife would not have been the most successful business woman running a multinational business empire.
Taken out of context ANY religious text can be used to justify hatred and violence against those judged to be abhorrent, an aberration. Yet that is exactly what our religious prophets had not done – the lives of Musa, Isa, Muhammad, Ram, Krishna, Guru Nanak, Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Laozi, Rishabha Dev – their actions were compassionate, their concern & love for all living being was universal.
Yet here we are… centuries later, killing each other over religion and destroying our humanity in that process.
Weeks from the Charter for Compassion launch, Karen Armstrong looks at religion’s role in the 21st century: Will its dogmas divide us? Or will it unite us for common good? She reviews the catalysts that can drive the world’s faiths to rediscover the Golden Rule.