Change from “Pluralism” to “Cooperation between Religions”
Posted by musliminsuffer on October 15, 2010
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
Change from “Pluralism”
to “Cooperation between Religions”
By Dr Javed Jamil*
“Pluralism” has in recent years developed as a full-fledged ideology. With the kind of the support it has – ranging from the states to international organisations– the emphasis in Pluralism was bound to shift from “respect to religion” to “negation of religion”. Such a change can now be easily seen in all the conferences taking place on the subject and the views of the individuals who are on the forefront of the movement.
There has been an outcry in recent times with people trying to present religion as a destabilising force. Unfortunately “Pluralism” has too become a party to this sustained campaign. This is why the leaders of pluralism stress on individuals to believe that “all religions are equal”, thus diluting their faith in their own religions. Introduction of atheism also as a kind of religion is being further used to dilute the impact of religion.
Throughout the history, religion has played a significant role in the individual and social affairs of human beings. For most of the people that flourished in different regions of the planet earth and in different eras, faith has been a sine qua non for their existence. In spite of the fact that religion has more often than not been defiled or contaminated by the self seeking clerics, it has earnestly and relentlessly endeavored to discipline life by erecting the ethical fence around it. It has almost been a periodical phenomenon that the prophets and sages arrived with sublime messages of highest virtues, and no sooner did they depart, their followers successively adulterated those with immoralities and indecencies. Yet, it is an irrefutable truth that it is mainly owing to the strong influences on human minds and hearts wielded by religion that truth, honesty, sacrifice for others, justice and mercy have always been regarded as commendable virtues in society, even if the constituent members of society have not, generally, put them into practice. What is, indisputably, commendable is that religion assisted mankind in overcoming dilemma of routine life at a time when it was not advanced enough to, objectively discriminate between the right and wrong. In the midst of all-pervading gloom, the solitary torch of religion shone; whoever had the eyes that could observe it, darkness made exit from his life.
The faiths that have been dominant in the world during last few millennia – Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism. Christianity, Islam and Sikhism — all have, without exception, magnified moral values. No religion preaches falsehood, dishonesty, cheating, bribery, hatred, violence, adultery and fornication. Each of them eschews, albeit in varying degrees, this-worldliness; Jainism and Buddhism, altogether, condemn this life; Christianity promotes celibacy; and Islam, while permitting necessities and enjoyment of life within prescribed limits, promotes love for other-worldliness. Religion aims at achieving peace, and gives less importance to material gains. This principle applies to all religions, and this is what annoys most the economic fundamentalists; for promotion of materialism reigns supreme in their scheme of things. Their plan cannot succeed, unless people became least entangled in moral dilemma, and the love of this worldliness ravishes that of the other-worldliness; if honesty rules the roost in their life, sex outside the ambit of marriage is considered immoral and illegal, self-sacrifice lords over their hearts and minds, and deceit and falsehood haunt their conscience, how would they be persuaded to “enjoy” the “comforts of life” (without unduly caring for right and wrong) that the merchants seek to market with great fanfare.
The unfortunate feature of the whole history of the decline of religion in most parts of the world, especially as a dominant social force, was that the protagonists of all the religions assumed an outright defensive posture. Their defence of religion was generally weak and ineffective, as they attempted to use the same criteria as their detractors had, after a meticulous thinking, laid down for examining religious beliefs and practices. They often turned apologetic in their arguments. This position has shown indication of change in many Islamic countries during last few decades as an outcome of the realisation in the educated class of their folly in blindly pursuing western life styles, rejuvenated interest in Islam of Muslim experts in modern subjects and the growing dissatisfaction of the masses with the modern legal, political, economic and social systems. The modern Islamists have discovered more rationale in their religion than the emerging order. They have gradually turned the table in several Muslim countries on their opponents. The whole Islamic world is now witnessing revival of faith. Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Malaysia — in fact, almost every Muslim country that had, at one time or the other in the last century became westernised in varying degrees is back on the path towards the establishment of a completely or partially theocratic state. Christianity, Buddhism, Hiduism and Sikhism have also displayed signs of palingenesis in specific areas. But still, most of the religious people including Muslims tend not to be aggressive in their approach, and often exhibit sectarian bias. Instead of focusing on the faults and discrepancies of the new dispensations that are numerous, they continue to dissipate their energies in erecting defences around their faiths. By the time, they defeat the mischievous propaganda unleashed against one principle or practice, the opponents, supported by the economic fundamentalists, open another front. The ideological war goes on unabated; but, this is still being fought in the domains of religion; religionists have forgotten that, for ultimate triumph, the battle-line is to be pushed into the domain of enemy.
Though the virtues like probity, self esteem, patience, endurance and truthfulness are also unwelcome, what particularly annoys the economic fundamentalists is insistence in religion on taboos. The practices forbidden by different religions are obviously such as tend to lure, mesmerise and addict the humans; these cause temporary pleasures, that may sooner or later be followed by undesirable effects, often severe on person, family and society. The very fact that they had to be prohibited indicated the culpability of the people for them; they rapidly transform their users or practitioners into physical or psychological dependants. Every religion has its prohibitions. Many of them are common with other religions. Christianity shuns sexual waywardness; Jainism and Buddhism forbid meat, alcohol and adultery; Hinduism and Christianity are not too sure about alcohol. In Islam, prohibitions have taken a more elaborate form, and cover all aspects of life; taking of alcohol pork and blood are not allowed and gambling, hoarding, usury, adultery, fornication, murder, theft and bribery are expressly unlawful. It can easily be seen that the habits and practices, prescribed by different religions, can produce serious ailments and social tensions. But, the economic fundamentalists had little concern for the welfare of the individual or society. They could foresee extraordinary scope, once the outlets are open in these taboos, for their commercial aggrandizement. It would however not be easy till religion retained a central position in society. The privatization of religion, was therefore, a compelling necessity for them.
The outgeneraling of religion along with its dos and don’ts in society ensured smooth sailing in future for the big business. They were now on a robust platform to bring about rapid onset of huge transformation in social values. These changes had absolutely nothing to do with the well being of society, and were aimed only at utilizing human temptations for the geometrical multiplication of wealth.
Need of Change
The difference between the approach of pluralists and me is that
- While I am a strong supporter of coexistence and I have even been campaigning for an all-religion alliance, my assertion is that people belonging to all religions including Muslims have the right to believe that their religion is best. “Pluralistic” approach on the other hand is that no one should believe that his religion is superior to that of others. The pluralistic approach is neither natural nor practicable. This approach can be acceptable to only those whose faith in their own religions are week or are simply unbelievers in their own religions. People believing and practicing religions cannot simply entertain this; and unless the common people and the clerics who they follow do not join any multi-faith movement cannot succeed. My approach on the other hand will be acceptable to all communities.
- In effect, pluralism can only be an ideal of the state or any party/organization; it cannot be the way of life for individuals. It is alright for a state having people belonging to different faiths (especially where there is no overwhelming majority of any community or where the people are largely non-practising by-chance followers of a religion) to say that “all religions are equal in the sight of the state.”
- Pluralists want religion to be an individualistic faith with religion playing absolutely no role in governance. I feel religious values are a strong anti-dote to exploiters particularly those who glorify human weaknesses and religion must play a much more aggressive role in determining the direction of the society and state. The only condition is that religion should not be allowed to deteriorate into communalism and sectarianism.
To work for peaceful co-existence and for Interfaith Dialogue is a noble job; but unfortunately these are being increasingly used to make people lose respect for religion in general and their own religion in particular. They are being made to believe that their religions are not infallible; instead the modern concepts of Secularism, Democracy, Pluralism, Human Rights and Freedom of Choice are infallible. This is why the focus on all these platforms is on finding faults in religions, accumulating questions that are debatable and keeping the believers engaged in defending their religions. They will never debate on the concepts of Secularism, Democracy, Pluralism, Human Rights and Freedom of Choice; and if someone endeavours to critique these concepts he is labeled as retrogressive or obscurantist. If a movement to bring together all religions is to progress, we have to resolve
That every person on the earth has the right to believe that his religion/ideology is superior to others;
That they have the right to present their viewpoints;
That they must do so without insulting and degrading other religions – though they can criticize in an academic style;
That the criticism of a religion should be of what they admit; and not on what they are alleged;
That the importance of religion in general should be given as much emphasis as possible;
That there should be endeavours to form an all-religion alliance against injustices; evils that threaten health, family peace and social order; and
That there should be a Minimum Common Agenda which all must agree upon; and finally
That this Common Minimum Agenda must be directed at making the whole world purer, healthier and more peaceful rather than trying to bring certain reforms in communities suiting the designs of those who rule the world.
Time has now come when the religionists belonging to all religions need to be emphatic about the true aims of religion. They must recognize the fact that the anti-religion economic forces have successfully turned one religion against another. Religions seem to be fighting one another instead of fighting their common enemy: Irreligion and the dominance of the ideology of economic fundamentalism in the affairs of life. The people today are merely interested in the rituals of the religion without inculcating the morality, honesty, integrity, perseverance, patience, purity and God’s fear and love in their minds and without waging a fight against the social vices. The market forces are commercializing human susceptibilities in a big way. Beaches, Casinos, Bars, Nightclubs, Nude women, prostitution, etc have become symbols of freedom. Foetuses are being killed in the name of Women’s rights, criminals are being protected in the name of human rights. Everybody talks of Rights. Nobody talks of Duties and Fundamental Prohibitions, without which a peaceful society cannot develop. While all religions are to unite, the primary duty lies with four big religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Christianity, Judaism and Islam need to work together in West, and Hinduism and Islam need to initiate the movement in India taking Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jainis along with them.
* Executive Chairman, International Centre for Applied Islamics; Chief Editor of “Islam, Muslims & the World”; and author of more than a dozen books on wide range of subjects
global-right-path On: October 13, 2010 12:53 PM
On Behalf Of: doctorforu123
BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW