The controversy over the Danish cartoons brought up a very interesting thought process in a discussion I had in my group of friends here. The school of thought that holds that the cartoons were “wrong” says that they violate the principle of Islam that says that the Prophet must never be depicted. Well, sure, that’s true, but there’s another way of looking at that, which a friend brought up.
“It’s prohibited in Islam, but then so is eating pork! Does that mean that no one must ever eat pork?” I must admit that this argument, its simplicity and its absolute irrefutability stunned all of us when we first heard it. It’s simple. Every religion prohibits a number of things. The followers of that religion may or may not choose to accept those decrees and may or may not therefore be accused of blasphemy or whatever, but the rest are completely free to break them with impunity and should not have to fear retribution from the followers of the religion!
That of course leaves just the point of whether the cartoons were offensive in themselves. Personally, I have seen all of them and did not think they were offensive. They mocked the people who use Islam as a shield and justification for terrorism and I don’t think that is at all offensive for the people who do not fall into that category. If I were a peace-loving Muslim who therefore would obviously not like those people, I would agree with the sentiments expressed by the cartoonist! It is astounding that these shold be considered offensive, particularly by those that defended MF Hussain!
It is astounding that these shold be considered offensive, particularly by those that defended MF Hussain!
The arguments raised by the defenders of the cartoons have generally centered on the issue of freedom of speech and this is where I find that religion is the obstacle! It seems fashionable in the West these days to deride Islam as the religion that seems to place barriers on freedom speech and expression, yet it is my contention, that all religions do so! However much the proponents of any religion may claim that their religion promotes peace and love, the irrefutable and indeed immutable truth of the matter is that no religion actually does so outide itself and the existence of any religion will ultimately lead to the total opposite.
There have been prolonged and painful-to-the-observer debates on the messages of peace in Islam and there have been points and counter-points about certain verses of the Koran and Hadith that certain scholars claim have violent/non-violent connotations. I find all these quite ludicrous and an unimaginable waste of time!
A fleeting glimpse of the Old Testament will serve to prove that Christianity is not devoid of violence either. Indeed, till just before the Industrial Revolution, the history of
The relevance of religion in Western society has diminished to the point that there are articles about how the Church is worried about attendances and a few churches have opened malls and entertainment plazas on their premises! True that of late there is a religious Right that has sprung up in some places, but that is a very, very small minority!
By contrast, the less-developed regions of the world continued to wallow in religious fervour and worship. The Gulf, for all its money has nothing barring the oil reserves that have been relentlessly and ruthlessly been exploited by all the oil giants of the world. There is no real knowledge economy there as shown by the amazing dearth of any good institutions for higher education.
Religion has outlived its purpose. The purpose of every religion when it began was to create a societal order and bonding between the people. But that was in an age where there was hardly any inter-mingling! Today, with the diversity in all places, all that religions achieve is to create distinctions between people. They’re divisive by nature! Who says religions promote equality? The equality pertains only to people of the same Faith!
Every religious doctrine proclaims that the people of the ‘true faith’ will go to Heaven. A nun at my door once promised to teach me about ‘the true God’. What is all this if not divisive in nature? I believe that no person is a true atheist in the sense that every person has to believe in something. I say I am an atheist in the sense that I do not buy the concept of ‘God’ as it is taught. Yet, I too believe in something. I believe in a Universal Self as taught in the Upanishads and then as taken forward by a number of philosophers, both ancnt and modern.
No religion has answers to any of the truly philosophical questions. The reason is simple. Religion was not meant to answer these questions or teach the Truth. It was meant only to bind together people of a particular region, lay down laws and provide employment and money to the Godmen. Today, the wealth of the religious organizations and the power they wield bears testimony to the success that these instruments of domination have enjoyed. But their time has passed. It’s time to break down these edifices and look beyond at the naked truth, unmasked by the lies and deception propagated by religion.
I think the asininity of religion is best illustrated by an exchange I had with a priest. It’s a long one, so I’ll refrain from posting it here. In short, he blew up at me and refused to answer my questions after a point. It proved to me all I needed to know: Religion is a pile of crap!