17 Dec 2007

Religion: Opium of the masses???

'Do you believe in God, Mr. Langdon?'
The question startled him. The earnestness in Vittoria's voice was even more disarming than the inquiry. Do I believe in God? He had hoped for a lighter topic of conversation to pass the trip.
A Spiritual conundurm, Langdon thought. That's what my friends call me. Although he studied religion for years, Langdon was not a religious man. He respected the power of faith, the benevolence of churches, the strength religion gave to so many people ... and yet, for him, the intellectual suspension of disbelief that was imperative of one were truly going to 'believe' had always proved too big an obstacle for his academic mind. 'I want to believe,' he heard himself say.
Vittoria's reply carried no judgment or challenge. 'So why don't you?'
He chuckled. 'Well, it's not that easy. Having faith requires leaps of faith, cerebral acceptance of miracles - immaculate conceptions and divine interventions. And then there are the codes of conduct. The Bible, the Koran, Buddhist scripture ... they all carry similar requirements - and similar penalties. They claim that if I don't live by a specific code I will go to hell. I can't image a God who would rule that way.'

The above passage from Dan Brown's first work 'Angels and Demons' perhaps represents a right mix of the argument for the an atheist. Though my quoting above does imply my approval or disapproval of the statement my conformity with Mr. Brown's views either on the same or otherwise, yet I feel that this passage is a correct reflection of the fight within.

But then, as I write this and you read this, somewhere down the world someone would be ri
nging bells, be it in a Church or temple, praying, for oneself or for others, donating, for a better life in an unknown later world, recounting one's karma, to put one's deeds straight, visiting shrines, seeking the unknown almighty. Why? Not because the Bible, Kuran, Geeta, Guru Granth Sahib, or other holy scriptures say that. But because of an inner felt carving for a support. After all we all need one, no matter how strong we may appear, emotionally, physically or mentally, we all need support. It is just a question of timing. Some need it occasionally while for some an entire life of support is short.

In any case, what is the need to question this faith and why? Does it make sense? Well it does, if you follow religion because you have faith in it and someone else says that your religion is sham, corrupt and is based upon fundamentals which are not sustainable. Well, for non-starters, Mr. Brown does exactly that in his two bestselling novels. And consequently we have the enormous furore the world over that Christianity has been attacked and its base shaken and all. But surely and thoroughly I am not writing on that, it is just a passing reference to what happens when people begin questioning their faith.

As Karl Marx had put it, "Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes" (German) for "religion is opium of the people or "religion is opium of the masses". I agree with it but for a qualification; the comparison that is made to a tranquillizer, which actually does not warrant comparison. So I do advance the argument that religion serves as a band-aid only till the time it is thought to be curative. The moment you think your woulds heal faster and better without those, it stops to serve any purpose, except decorative. It is ultimately a question of faith.

Religion is only a platform providing an anecdote, which seeks to serve us bound and in-tact, so that we do not feel devoid of purpose and way. All religions, seek to stand on the same footing and providing a way to achieve the inner-self, not something external. Unless there kindles an internal fire, religion fails to serve a purpose and is reduced to a dogma of superstitious practices and like. But the moment you have faith and believe that such practices are there to serve a purpose, in those same practices to being to realize lies an path todays becoming a tolerant, wiser and rational human being, looking with all its humbleness for the enlightenment of the humanity.

It is faith and faith alone, of one in oneself, that keeps this platform vital and self-preserving. The moment faith is lost in the religion, its followers convert or banish and the path to enlightenment disappears. So religion is neither a dogma or an enlightenment in itself. It is instead, a path to finding one-self, a path which no doubt goes through a web of dwindling moments which bring forth a lot of questions which one has to answer. But then it is really a test of character and faith is the weapon to win this warfare.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many people talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.

With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to koran-AT-reformislam.org.

When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at koran-AT-reformislam.org. If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.

In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.