Religious fundamentalism

Predhuman K. Joseph Dhar
The history of the religion is passing through a new phase. On the one hand, there is a call for the secularization of all religions. On the other, there is an invitation for the followers of religions to revive religious fundamentalism. This is what the utterances of Dr.Farooq Abdulla at his Khanayar election rally point to. This is a very dangerous trend. The vast majority of the world population rejects both these extreme religious attitudes.
The reactions against the genocide in Kashmir and the terrorist attack at the World Trade Centre, is a clear indication the religious fundamentalism is no more welcome. People are aware of the need of religions; they are conscious of the equality of religions. Religions are a part of human heritage. They are the gifts of different world cultures to humanity. In fact, religions—their differing beliefs and practices-are given flesh and blood by various cultures they are embedded in culture. Plurality of religions only explains that human persons, in different situations, have understood the mystery of God or the Ultimate Reality differently. Religions are expressions of the deep-rooted divine consciousness in human persons. Obviously, the equality and plurality of religions have become the accepted acts of the day. Absolute claims of religions are rejected on the fact that they have only helped the disintegration of humanity. This is true whether it is the case of Crusades, Jihads, Martyrdom, Dharmayuds or the sad events taking place in Kashmir for 25 years now. All the more, the people of the present century are becoming conscious of the reality that no religion can completely exhaust the Infinite Reality of God.
The purpose of religions is to help people to lead a life of unity, love, peace, harmony and mutual support. This is presented as the Kingdom of God in the language of Christ Jesus. Breaking down barriers, and the coming together of people are at the very heart of every true religion and the authentic religious person. Therefore Jesus Christ never preached a particular religion, other than the religion of the Kingdom of God. He never preached any religious conversion other than the conversion of hearts.
The religious vision of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi represents the religious attitude of the right thinking people of today. He found all religions as the representations of the same Divine Reality. He upheld the plurality and equality of religions.
For him, religions are the signs of human persons’search for truth. He wrote in ‘Young India’ October 14, 1926: “If we search we may find many religions as there are men. Hundreds of men are merely striving to know Truth.They will put the Truth in their own way. No two men will view it in identical terms. I do not judge Muslims, Parsees, Christians and Jews. If I am a seeker of Truth, it is quite sufficient for me. I can not say that because I have seen God in this way the whole world must see HIM in that way. All religions are true and equal. Another man’s religion is true for him, as mine is true for me.”
Thus each person is free, according to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, to follow and present her/his religious convictions. But the same freedom of the other is also to be respected. A true religious person can never become a religious fundamentalist. Religions stand for the furtherance of humanitarian, social and spiritual causes. The core of the religious doctrines of all religions is the same.
“Let not any man do unto another any act that he wisheth not done to himself by others, knowing it be painful to himself.”(Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, cclx.21);”Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you”(Confucius, Analects, Book XII, #2);”Hurt not others with that which pains yourself”(The Buddhist Udanavarga, v.12)”As you would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise (Jesus Christ: Luke 6:31); “No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself”( The Haddith).
The role of every religion is to promote the Kingdom of God OR THE Ramarajaya in Gandhain terms. This means that every religion should promote human values like peace, solidarity, reconciliation and justice. However it is very sad to note that now a days the politicization of religion is a phenomenon that is gaining ground in many parts of the world. In many nations, a new nationalism, which is nothing but the resurgence of religious fundamentalism, is gaining momentum. Jihads are extolled, terrorism becomes patriotism with religious colour and suicide bombings become religious martyrdom. Today religious fundamentalism is threatening religious co-existence, peace and harmony. However religion does not mean religious fundamentalism. It is high time that people are taught what religion really means. Religions are and can never become a threat to human progress. On the other hand, they are potential tools for ushering in peace and harmony.
Let we not brand a person communal who strictly adheres to his/her religious beliefs. Doing so would be a travesty of justice, a premium upon recklessness and even fraud.