How Tolerant Are Our Religions?

Posted by Nagur Sharif Shaik
October 12, 2017

A recent post about a lady expressing her objection towards a Hindu ritual of women has caused a debate that has made me question how tolerant our religions, or the people who practise them, actually are.

Every time we face a blind belief or ritual of a particular religion and try to question its authenticity and necessity, our most common response is to say that ‘people are losing their values’, or that ‘it is a matter of faith and it shouldn’t be questioned’. Some would say you either follow it or ignore it. Or the most funny one is selecting a belief of a different religion and then counter questioning, “Why don’t you go and ask about that?” The hilarious part is that not a single person or preacher will be patient enough to answer the real reason behind the ritual.

Why is it that questioning a ritual or a blind belief always leads to anger? Why is it that not a single individual has the patience to stop and ask the reason behind the ritual? How is the curiosity to know about the ritual wrong?

Some wise man once said that Hindutva is not a religion, but a way of life. And many Hindutva rituals did have scientific and logical reasons behind them. For instance, applying turmeric to the body was a scientific act, since it acted as an antibiotic. Similarly, using cowdung and rangoli in the front porch had scientific bases as it supposedly kept germs and microbes away. Planting neem and tulsi trees in the backyard of homes showed the respect people had for their medicinal values. But now, all these practices have become ‘rituals of religion’. There are many such forgotten practices that are now being brushed away as ‘blind or baseless beliefs’, while the beliefs which are actually ‘blind’ are surviving.

Not a single fatwa-issuing maulvi has a logical and justifiable answer to why Muslim women wear burqa. Not a single man can give a justifiable and logical answer about how a woman’s fasting will give him a longer life. Not a single Christian missionary will give a justifiable answer why a person wasn’t born in a Christain family if they really wanted to be a Christain.

Over a period of time, we have ignored the knowledge of our forefathers and made many of their healthy and scientific practices mere religious beliefs. We have also let these preachers, missionaries and maulvis exploit us in the name of god.

If a person’s ‘good deed’ comes from the fear of hell or from the desire of divine reward, then it will never be a ‘good deed’.