I was reading what I thought was a beautifully written article on CNN, about how the Hajj pilgrimage reawakens Islamic values for young Muslims (though I do believe that it applies to all). It explained the purpose of Hajj, the mechanics of the pilgrimage, and the unity that this event brings amongst Muslims worldwide. The fact that it is considered to be one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, bringing together more than 3 million Muslims worldwide to a sacred place once a year for a holy ritual, speaks volumes of how important religion is to our lives. The Hajj is just one example; let’s not forget other mass-scale pilgrimages that happen yearly across the world, with the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar being the first to come to mind.
Go on, read the article.
And then scroll down through the comments – I won’t be surprised if you’re left feeling as disgusted as I was, at some people’s blatant ignorance, lack of values and hatred.
This is what frustrates me –
Everyone has differing views and opinions on religion; yes I am fully aware of that. But whether or not you’re a devout follower of your faith, you’d agree that religion plays a major role in one’s spiritual fulfilment and their closeness to God. Whether you’re a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Baha’i… Religion relates your humanity to your spirituality. Religion, regardless of which, teaches us about love, peace and unity.
So tell me – where does the hate come in? How did the poison of hatred manage to be successfully bred among us? How did we grow up hating other people, just because they have different religious beliefs than we do?
I’m not a devout Muslim. I don’t practice it as piously as I should, I have forgotten most of the teachings of the religious school and classes I had gone to as a child, I don’t even believe in some of the “rules” that were laid out for me while growing up in a Muslim environment. I don’t believe that I couldn’t do certain things or act a certain way or dress a certain way, “because I am a Muslim“. I question the interpretations from religious teachers of the Qur’an, solely because the meanings are almost always taken out of context and history has proven how ridiculous and twisted some of these “interpretations” have become.
But religion has taught me one thing – not to be ignorant.
I view everything with an open mind; I feed myself with the knowledge of other religions so I can understand them better, not from a biased point of view but with the rationality of my own judgement. Of course, if I ever voice out my own opinions on Islam and other religions, I find myself being whipped with backlash by other people (primarily my Dad and/or other folks who grew up with the traditional thinking of how religion works) but I take all these with a pinch of salt because I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
Even if I believe in one thing, I won’t preach to another person of a different belief and try to convince them which belief makes more sense. I don’t patronize other people’s opinions just because I think they’re wrong. I don’t base my own beliefs and opinions on current events, i.e. All Muslims are evil terrorists because they blow up countries! They cause wars! Look at 9/11! And Al-Qaeda! — Um hello, is that the only terrorist attack this world has seen? Let’s talk about George Metesky. Or the relatively recent Oslo incident. HELL, LET’S TALK ABOUT WORLD WAR I & II because honestly, any killing of innocent people on a large scale should be considered terrorism.
Most people have this skewed train of thought that Islam is a religion where its followers enjoy killing non-Muslims, that wives and daughters are at the mercy of their husbands and fathers, that females have to be covered from head to toe, that women have no rights, that Jihad means to fight for the sake of God… the list is endless.
But these misconceptions were brought about by culture, not the religion of Islam itself.
And that is what makes me want to drive the head of the next ignorant person I come across, into the nearest wall.
Muslims don’t enjoy killing non-Muslims; only terrorists (regardless of religion) and murderers (think Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, etc) do. Females are not at the mercy of their male counterparts; male chauvinists only dictated this to be true because they put their ego and pride as their priority instead of loving their wives and daughters. Females are encouraged to cover themselves for the sake of their own modesty, but being forced to do so against their will is a violation of their rights (similarly, putting a ban on wearing the burqa, like what France had recently done, is also a violation of the Muslim females’ rights to dress how they want). Women do have rights; in fact, men and women were made equal in God’s eyes and should be respected equally (but see the second point above on the male ego and pride for justification on this misconception). Jihad does not mean ‘to fight for the sake of God’; in fact the true Arabic meaning of this is ‘struggle’. There are many forms of jihad, with the greater jihad to be the struggle of the soul, or against one’s self.
While on the topic of Jihad, let me just say that suicide is actually a sin in Islam (similar to it being a sin in other major religions as well. Not to mention, an act of cowardice) so these Muslim suicide bombers who claim that they are dying for Islam and who recklessly use the words “Allahu Akbar! (God is Great!)” as their dying words before they blow themselves up into smithereens… Sorry to burst your bubble, dude, but you’re going to hell. And you’re not getting your 72 virgins.
My bottomline is – people should stop generalizing. Stop generalizing all Muslims to fit the stereotype of how all Muslims are terrorists. Stop generalizing that all Muslims are backward and oppressed by Islam. Stop generalizing that all Muslim men are allowed to subject their wives and children to beatings and abuse.
Similarly, stop generalizing that all Jews are greedy, manipulative masterminds (here’s talking to you, Dad). Stop generalizing that all priests are pedophiles. Stop generalizing on ANYTHING – go read up on your facts and get them straight, before you start spreading more unjust hatred and biased opinions.
Some uneducated low-life will always make it their life purpose to ruin the sacredness and truth of a religion with twisted misinterpretations and lies. And then more uneducated low-lifes will trust these lies and hand them out as the “truth”, to other people. The vicious cycle will never end.
Just believe in yourself, and your faith. Your rationality of what is wrong and what is right, instead of merely listening to others blindly.
And just so you know… I’ve been learning about and exploring the Baha’i faith. A religion that has emphasis on the spiritual unity of all humankind, recognizes the oneness of all the world’s greatest religions and also emphasizes on equal opportunities, rights and privileges for both men and women, amongst other things?
Until some low life decides to ruin this religion like they have to all other religions, this sounds pretty good to me.
Pax et amor,