People often ask me, what my religion is. My answer to them is, I am a Christian to the Christian, a Jew to the Jew, a Muslim to the Muslim, a Hindu to the Hindu and an Atheist to the Atheist. There is nothing wrong or unscientific or primitive about being a religious person. In fact, we neuroscientists have shown with countless experiments that in daily life, religious rituals such as engaging prayers, aid in sustaining mental as well as physical health. But the problem with religion, in the way it is perceived in today’s world, is that, it is more of a matter of theoretical indoctrination than actual realization of divinity within the self. And that’s where religion becomes dangerous.
A religious individual may most gloriously carry out his or her own rituals, as a part of his or her cultural identity, but the moment, that person starts to build a wall of separation between the self and the rest of humanity, coaxed by the textual commands of a scripture, the healthy religiousness turns into dangerous fundamentalism, which is a threat to both the self and the society. That is why, I am a relative of both the religious and the atheist portions of the society, but the brightest nightmare to the fundamentalists. Fundamentalism has nothing to do with modern civilization. And indeed, it has nothing to do with religion. And if it does fester in any corner of the world, it is the responsibility of the conscientious people of that society to rise against such barbarianism and uproot it before it grabs onto the psyche of a broader audience.
Religious fundamentalism advocates homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, polygamy and many other primitive evils. Can you imagine, somebody telling you, your love for your dearly beloved is a sin! Can you imagine, somebody telling you, women are inferior to men, and are meant only serve the men! Can you imagine, somebody telling you, a man can have multiple wives, and yet be deemed civilized! Here that somebody is a fundamentalist – a theoretical pest from the stone-age, who somehow managed to survive even amidst all the rise of reasoning and intellect. Such a creature with no modern mental faculty whatsoever, knows nothing beyond the words of a book, written hundreds or thousands of years ago, when ignorance was the default mode of thinking in the society. It does not only believe every single word of a book to be literally true, but puts all its efforts to convince others to believe the same. This way, it would be an understatement to say, such is a worthless creature. In reality, such a creature can cause a catastrophic contagion in a society, especially if that society is already going through socio-political turmoil. In a society, where people most progressively practice rational thinking, no fundamentalist pest can infect their psyche. But if the people are already boiling with rage, then such minds are more vulnerable to fundamentalist contagion. Thus emerge Jihadis or Holy Warriors. Here let me quote from my book “The Islamophobic Civilization: Voyage of Acceptance”, to show you, what goes on inside the brain of a holy warrior.
“Inside a jihadi brain, the neuropsychological elements of aggression and rage run rampant, due to socio-political conditions. These overwhelming mental elements of young souls, when attached to the sacred texts of the Quran, by the authoritarian groups of fundamentalists, become weapons of mass destruction in the pursuit of the exclusive supremacy of one religion over the others.”
To get rid of religious terrorism, it is not enough to kill a bunch of Jihadis, even though it may be morally justified to do so, for saving humanity from their wrath. Jihad or Holy war would keep festering one way or another, until religious fundamentalism is eradicated from the human society. Until the whole humanity learns to scrutinize its most revered scriptures with the sharp tool of reasoning, Jihad will keep on striking over the world. If one does not have the basic conscientious capacity to refute the primitive textual verses of the scriptures that demand one to kill or torture another being for holding a different belief system than one’s own, then that entity is no being of the civilized human society. No Quran, no Bible, no Gita, no Cow, is greater than the human self. There shall be hope for harmony and peace in the world, only when fundamentalism is destroyed forever. Harmony is not a luxury, it is an existential necessity of the species. And to achieve it, if a hundred Bibles have to be sacrificed, then be it. But for no Bible, Quran or Gita, can harmony be compromised.
The point is, being a Christian does not mean hating or belittling the non-Christians. Being a Muslim does not mean hating or belittling the non-Muslims. Being an Atheist does not mean hating or belittling the religious people. In a civilized society, diversity in religious orientation should be the reason for celebration, not the cause for hatred and differentiation. Some people like baseball, some soccer and some others like no sports at all. Their psychological orientation with sports doesn’t make them any less or more human. The same is with religious orientation. The true Kingdom of God is within you, and it is defined by your behavior with other people, regardless of their religious affiliation. You are the God of your life, and your divinity lies in your actions. And once you realize this, it will dawn on you that, all religions are mere external echoes of humankind’s internal divinity. Remember, divinity is goodness, and goodness is godliness. There is nothing higher than this. There is no greater religion than this.
(Simultaneously published on Goodreads.)