Religion Became Controversial Once Linked to Politics

Religion, a significant aspect of human society, has been defined in different ways by our forefathers. Somewhere it has been described as an adoptable thing and somewhere it has been linked with the beliefs of people. We can say that the belief of human towards any spiritual ‘power’ or spiritual ‘system’ is religion.

The tradition of religion is ancient. Our ancient forefathers introduced and popularized the concept of religion to promote the feeling of love, brotherhood, cooperation and peaceful coexistence among humans. They warned us through religion about the consequences of our misdeeds. Today, in every religion it is accepted that a person is entitled to get heaven after death if he does good deeds in his lifetime, whereas the person committing misdeeds has to face hell after the death.

The doubt on credibility of facts mentioned in religion still remains and probably will also remain in future. But one thing is clear that our forefathers introduced the concept of religion so that every person does good deeds following the path of truth and follow good things in life. And remain away from bad habits and misdeeds.

After centuries of the tradition of religion, when the human has become much more capable and intelligent, the question is arising whether this system of religion introduced by our forefathers is working according to their expectations or it has become a danger to the mankind itself. If it is so, then who is responsible for this? Our forefathers who initiated the religious traditions or present day self styled caretakers of religion? What is the reason that the religion, the symbol of belief, faith and trust, has now become a synonym for fear, terror and violence? Who has caused this to happen?

Indeed, the religion started becoming controversial since it was unnecessarily linked with politics. This trend is not new. Since centuries our rulers, kings and dictators have adopted several gimmicks so as to remain in power and retain it for their children. This relationship between religion and politics made religion vulnerable to controversies, doubts and criticisms. Fortunately, side by side many such incidents occurred during the same period which again and again proved that it is not reasonable and sustainable to link religion and politics.

For instance, many Mughal rulers expanded their kingdoms by the use of swords. To maintain their rule, they promoted religious conflicts by the way of demolishing temples or targeting the people of a particular community. On the contrary, the great Akbar married Jodhabai, Kalawati tied rakhi (wristband) on the wrist of Humayun, Maratha ruler Shivaji appointed Mullah Haider as his very personal secretary and Daulat Khan and Dariya Khan as his confidential naval commanders, thus promoting religious harmony. There are innumerable such examples which prove that many Hindu rulers provided land for Mosques, Mausoleums and cemeteries. Similarly many Muslim rulers provided land for the construction of temples, gurudwaras and other worshipping places.

If such instances of intermingling of religion and politics promote unity, harmony and brotherhood, then the religious system appears to be honourable and acceptable. But when the same system creates hatred in the minds of people and communities against one another, then it become a symbol of hatred and fear. In today’s democratic system, there is no scope for religious extremism, religious prejudice and forceful imposition of politico-religious ideology. Though, India is a melting pot of different religions and communities, but the petty politicians involved in vote bank politics, are continuously in an attempt to pollute and destroy the secular character of the country. While centuries ago the Somnath temple was demolished by a dictatorial ruler, its revenge, in a democratic setup, is being taken in the form of the demolition of disputed Babri Mosque structure. While Kashmiri Pundits are being ousted from Kashmir in the name of Jihad, similarly the hold on power is being strengthened by sponsoring genocide in Gujarat.

Though the petty wishes of these politicians to capture power can be fulfilled by such attempts, but the humanity never forgive such people whose power is stained with the blood of innocents. We should clearly understand one thing that any so-called godman of any religion, who tries to divide people on religious lines, teach the lessons of hatred and violence, doesn’t love his religion but he is doing so either to earn livelihood or because of any hidden political motive. Such importunate politicians use to keep a force of self styled godmen with them. If these godmen are ever encountered by any literate and educated person, the depth of their knowledge will become clear.

For the progress of human society and proper functioning of social systems, it is necessary to get rid of extremist, fundamentalist and importunate forces. It is the prime duty of the intellectuals, liberal leaders, social organizations and NGOs of the country to make public the reality and hidden agendas of these self styled godmen and selfish and narrow minded politicians. Since in a democratic system, the people’s power is prime, so our voters should be made aware and be saved from the political gimmicks.

The election commission of India should also seriously look into the matter and direct all the political parties and election contesting candidates not to use the name of religion, cast and other such issues in their election campaign which divide our society. To protect the society from the misuse of the name of religion, the children should get compulsory teachings in schools of the lessons of communal harmony and unity in diversity. So that they may serve the humanity to establish peace in the world and may propagate our ancient Indian thoughts serve bhavantu sukhinah , vasudhev kutumbakam. (The whole world is my family) should be active in the politics.

It should be accepted by all of us that the spread and propaganda of extreme thoughts on the name of religion is only an excuse for the bread and butter of some cheats which they want to earn on the name of religion. If we are to advance in any field out of politics, sports, education, science, technology, space or commerce etc. and we want to try for constructive progress in society, country, and world or for welfare of humanity, we shall have to free ourselves from the bonds of conservative and extreme thoughts. Not only this, we shall have to firmly oppose and stand against the people who thrust upon us the Anti-Humanity thoughts. We shall have to accept that the people, who in the guise of priests, give us sugar coated pills against humanity in the name of religion, with the lessons of religions are the real and the greatest foes of humanity.

We must recognize that if any politician or religious leader asks for our vote in the name of religion, such person or organization is playing with our very personal religious feelings. That person or organization is never interested in doing any good to society. Religion is a matter of personal choice and is practiced to get personal satisfaction. Therefore, we can say that religion is not a common agenda rather it is a very personal matter. The forces which want to make religion a public issue as a result of their vested political interests, in fact, are the biggest enemy of human society, nation and even of the religion.

Tanveer Jafri is an award-winning journalist and peace activist, based in India, covering communal harmony and social activities.