Religion plays an important role in the lives of majority of human beings.
Humans compared to animals or plants are endowed with a sense of spirituality
and yearning for a close contact with our creator. Irrespective of our religious
background and faith, religion is considered an essential part of our lies as a
source of inspiration, morality, and comfort and provides solace during times of
trouble or grief.
However, although religion provides a moral code on how to
live a peaceful existence and helps one to deal with problems, it can be
misused. In fact most of the troubles in the world stem from religious fanatism
or extremism. Religious fanatics take their religious ideology to extremes and
in their desire to propagate the teachings of their faith and ensure all the
religious principles are adhered to, they resort to violent methods. The bombing
of the World Trade Center in New York in 2001 is a perfect example as well as
the killings of Muslims in Gujarat, India in 2002 ad the Bali bombing in that
same year. Thousands of innocent lives were lost in these tragedies.
Despite religion teaching tolerance, acceptance, good deeds and moral values,
these fanatics hijack their own religion for personal ends. Religious
fundamentalists are to a certain extent irrational as they defy universal values
of respect, freedom of belief and other fundamental human rights. it is almost
an impossible task to encourage them to think about the rights of others -- all
they care about is to achieve their goals through killings and destruction.
There is little respect for other faiths and human values as they consider the
former as infidels who deserve "God's" punishment.
Religion too can be abused. many so-called religious leaders have exploited
religion to their own ends and the sad irony is that many of us have fallen
victims to such irrationality. In multicultural and multi-religious nation,
there is a vital need for them to understand, accept and practice tolerance vis
a vis other faiths. Thus, it is very important that we inculcate respect for
other faiths and do not stray into fundamentalism which would ultimately destroy
the harmony in the country.
Children should be exposed to the multi faiths in the country. They should be
encouraged to learn about other religions, their principles and commandments.
This would to an extent allow the younger generation to appreciate various
beliefs that exist in the country. the government too must play its part. Any
form of religious extremism should be resisted and those caught inciting
religious hatred put behind bars.