Oh Religion!

The world (well, most of it) is aspiring for peace today, but there are a few people who remain enthusiastic about killing in the name of religion, and they have their reasons too. Let us have a look at that.

If we start our discussion with a belief system that has ceased to exist today, Aztecs would deserve a place to prove the connection between barbarism and a belief system. The Aztecs began their elaborate theocracy in the 1300s and brought human sacrifice to a golden era. About 20,000 people were killed yearly to appease gods — especially the sun god, who needed daily “nourishment” of blood. It sounds unbelievable, but that is what the historians have recorded through Aztecs’ own versions.

Today’s religions on the other hand, have learnt to practice tolerance, partially because of the increasing dominance of nations (we will get to that later) and partially because of the way they have evolved with education. But to say, these religions have nothing to do with violence, would be an understatement. And whatever violence or troubles we observe in these religions, are deeply rooted in their religious texts.

For example, if I ask you to follow Islam – you will be offered an advice on how to deal with non-believers – Kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. ~ Quran (2:191-193)

But how did that affect the humanity?

It may surprise you: between 1000 and 1525 AD, the population of India decreased by around 80 million due to Islamic conquest; John Allembillah Azumah (author of The Legacy of Arab-Islam in Africa), mentions – since 1400 AD, 110 million blacks were killed by the same religion. These two combined, still not present the exact number of people who were killed, enslaved and suffered because of religious tortures, but the people who did this, had their reason, and they always referred to their text book, to which some might argue that the interpretation was incorrect by the murderers, but the same could be said about those who talk about the message of peace through the same text. Blind faith is dangerous – the sooner we realise this, the better would it be.

If you go with Hinduism – you are expected to follow lord Krishna’s words – If you will not fight this righteous war, then you will fail in your duty, lose your reputation, and incur sin. People will talk about your disgrace forever. To the honoured, disgrace is worse than death. You will go to heaven if killed in the line of duty, or you will enjoy kingdom on earth if victorious. Therefore, get up with determination to fight, O Arjuna! ~ Bhagwad Gita (2.33-2.37)

There are many in India (Hindu majority nation), who believe if they fight for their Dharma, they would be appreciated by their god. Therefore, the riots, are not infrequent in this country, rather they occur every year, particularly involving the people of Muslim community.

India has been an old nation, and has occupied with a religion (Hinduism) that has many faces and many beliefs, and therefore, it has been involved in multiple forms of taboos and violence.

The members of India’s Thuggee sect (mostly Hindus) strangled people as sacrifices to appease the their goddess Kali, a practice beginning in the 1500s. The number of victims has been estimated to be as high as 2 million. Thugs were claiming about 20,000 lives a year in the 1800s until British rulers stamped them out. But it hasn’t stopped there. People still sacrifice their goats in the name of gods, and while the stories of killing the humans may have gone unwonted, but they have not disappeared completely.

Christianity says – If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods”, do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. ~ Deuteronomy  (13:6-10)

Christians also, have had a dark past when it comes to religious terror. One of the horrors that they are related to, is called as ‘Inquisition’.

The Inquisition was a group of institutions within the judicial system of the Roman Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy. It started in 12th-century France to combat religious sectarianism, in particular the Cathars and the Waldensians. It involved slaughtering the enemies, torturing them(physically and sexually), after the infamous witch-trials were conducted on them.

Yes, there are many more religions than these three, and there are many more ideas that all these religions convey, but since many of them also support violence in one form or the other and the fact that the rate of expansion of a religion is very well related to the aggressive methods being employed by its supporters, we cannot deny that most of these religions have an ugly side.


Note: Above excerpts have been taken from “Oh Nationalism: An Essay Questioning the Idea of a Nation”. To read the complete essay, please click here: Oh Nationalism!

Published by Deepak Rana

A writer, a wanderer. Keeps dreaming and aspires to make them true.

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