Follow by Email

Monday, February 27, 2012

Food for thought: Religious people want us to be like them?

This has been something that has been on my mind for quite some time now, it was only bound to be a matter of time before I either wrote about this or discussed it in an open ended platform through engagement with other people. We growing up in Pakistan, particularly my generation which grew up in the 1990's has witnessed a dramatic shift in society and their level of religious sensitivities which has reached significantly heightened levels in the recent years. The religious sensitivity of religious people has reached levels where they are unable to show tolerance toward anything deemed even mildly possibly critical of religion, at the same time compassion has evaporated into thin air and vigilantism behavior is becoming increasingly common. Just as food for thought I would like to propose a hypothetical suggestion, I could be right or I could be wrong, no one has to take my word for it, it is intended to be just food for thought. The hypothesis I would like to propose is that one of the causes of the level of intolerance on part of religious people is because they wish to see us become just like them.

This is just food for thought, based on my life's experience as an individual, I have not conducted extensive research studies to analyze this or have tangible data to back this up. It would not be too surprising if the actual intent of religious people was that we all transform our lives into a model similar to that adopted by them, this is particularly relevant for a society like Pakistan. Contrary to popular belief that being an Asian country and an Asian culture, our society is full of values that reflect love, compassion and collectivism, but what we actually see in Pakistan is people's resistance to change, lack of tolerance for diversity and a very judgmental attitude towards other people. If we as a society had successfully managed to embrace and adopt diversity, all the different communities, cultures and sub cultures would be able to coexist in harmony with one another. If we as a nation are not tolerant of diversity, how can we expect the religious and the non religious people to tolerate one another and coexist in harmony.

From the perspective of religious people, religion acts as the perfect excuse for religious people to marginalize and discriminate their fellow human beings. They judge another person's wisdom and righteousness not based on the content of the character of that person but based on their practices with respect to symbolic rituals and practices. Those seen as not on par with them in practice of symbolic rituals and practices are seen as inferior human beings, and immediately assumed to be infidels unworthy of association. In order to please the right wing religious people, one has to be like them to the letter, even if you are some one who prays 5 times a day and fasts in Ramadan, if your point of view has signs of variation it would be fair to expect hostility coming towards us.

One of the other thoughts, that springs to one's mind we experience first hand the attitude of religious people towards us, is it possible that the overly sensitive right wing religious find it very difficult to come to terms with leaving the luxuries of the material world while others around them are living life business as usual? One thing religious whether conservative, moderate or liberal do agree on is that once you go towards religion it is a one way street and their is no going back. This adds some weight and credibility to the thought that when people turn religious and overtly adopt and display symbolic rituals and practices, since they can not go back to the way of life they left behind, maybe it is a simpler equation for them to pull others or at times push others around them to a way of life similar to theirs. Imagine, your a Haji (some one who has performed Pilgrimage), a Hafiz e Quran and you experience a sense of passion towards your religion and the teachings of Muhammad (SAW), but those that are close to you or those you associate with do not share the same sentiments, it is possible the emotion triggered could be a mild feeling of disrespect shown by others, or the emotion of missing the life left behind. Would it not even be even remotely tempting to try and use soft or hard tactics to bring people into our fold?

One final (final so as to not extend this blog too much)  thought I would like to share continuing from my previous point is, that maybe those that have turned to religion and are truly sensitive towards it want their close family and loved one's to follow in the same footsteps. In order to ensure that the same path in life is adopted by them, it is possible the initiative taken would be that their exposure to ideas and thoughts is limited, at the same time, those not religious and non practicing Muslims are demonized to the extent where they are seen not as just different human beings, but different human beings that have chosen the wrong path to life and have alienated themselves from the path of Islam. I could be wrong, all these thoughts are based on my personal experiences and is intended as just food for thought. So hows this as food for thought?


  1. The title says it all. There isn't much one can do about it, except for pretending to listen to what the religious have to say. Okay you found religion, good for you, now please don't force it down my throat.
    The perspective of the religious Muslims is that Islam is the only true religion, and everyone must follow it. It is the duty of a Muslim to preach his religion, create an Islamic State and enforce Islamic laws. With these beliefs there is no way a Muslim is going to the idea of a secular state where religion is a private matter. Not sure what can be done about this.
    Right now there must a blog entry somewhere out there complaining that people in Pakistan don't listen to religious preaching and that the laws aren't Islamic enough.

  2. Awesome! We get so few opportunities for humor in our blogs. Thanks for finding the fun!