In the name of religion
One balmy autumn afternoon, in a thriving Asian metropolis, something wicked their way came. Evil struck this modern sophisticated, prosperous city of Mumbai, and killed over 200 innocent people. Shrill cries of "Islamic terrorists" were heard around the world. This time they were right, or perhaps, half-right. The perpetrators were Pakistani members of a self-styled Islamist terrorist outfit "Lashkar-e-Tayyeba." Although now outlawed in Pakistan, the organization continues to function, in groups, inspired by El-Qaeda. They are not however, those Muslim Arab terrorists the world dreads since 9/11.
Do not blame religion
Such terror-driven Islamist groups thrive in Pakistan because of the deep-seated hatred between Hindus and Muslims. Once they shared one nation, but the ideologues of Hindutva claimed that the Hindus and Muslims were two entirely different nations, and Muslims could remain in India only if they turned Hindu, or be stripped of all civil rights. The two irreconcilable religions were partitioned and a separate state for Indian Muslims was founded, and named Pakistan. The partition did little to end the hatred between them. Anti-Hindu sentiment is considered the defining feature of Pakistan nationalism, resulting in the rise of radical Islamist groups such as Lashkar, as well as many others who were often used by their government to battle Indian forces in Kashmir. The Lashkar set up several training camps in Afghanistan giving the Taliban both military and moral support. Now they are a noose around the neck of the Pakistani government which finds it hard to control the extreme lawlessness of such groups. This hate-driven side of Islam, saddens Muslims around the world, who must seek to reclaim their religion and calm the fear of non-Muslims. It is imperative that they begin to erase the growing myth that Islam is a religion of terror and terrorists. Terrorists exist in the four corners of the globe - Hindu terrorists in India, Irish terrorists in Ireland, African terrorists in Rwanda, Sudanese terrorists in Darfur, Jewish terrorists in Israel, Arab terrorists in Palestine, etc. No religion should be blamed for the crimes that people commit. People are evil, not religions.
All religions are peace loving. They teach compassion, friendship, and goodwill towards one's fellowman. Yet, some of the worst atrocities imaginable were perpetrated in its name. Throughout history religion has been used as a driving force to kill, pillage and persecute. Even in our modern history wars continue to be waged by individuals, groups, or countries in the name of God. How many religious wars have been waged over the city of Jerusalem, sacred to all the three great religions?
Christianity, like Islam is a religion of love, peace, and forgiveness, yet for two centuries (11th -- 13th century), Christians fought Muslims over the Holy Land. For more than 400 years, during Christianity's infancy, Christians made special pilgrimages to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Sepulchre, the hill of Crucifixion, and the tomb of Christ's burial. They were granted safe passage by the Saracens who held the city. In 1065 the Seljik Turks gained control of the city, massacred 3,000 Christians, abused and persecuted the rest, destroying their churches, and using them as stables. A storm of indignation rose throughout Europe, stirring all Christians to rescue their Holy Land from the grasp of the infidels. Pope Urban II described the humiliation and profanation of the Holy places where Jesus had lived. With one voice, the faithful cried Dieu le volt, Dieu le volt (It is the will of God). Thousands affixed the cross on their garments and set off for the Holy Land to kill and be killed. The Crusade wars lasted over 200 years.
It is always baffling that when people suffer persecution and destruction at the hands of others, they themselves turn around and inflict it on others. In its first three centuries, Christians endured persecution at the hands of Emperor Nero, and other Roman authorities, who rounded up and killed them. Some were torn apart by dogs, others burnt alive. A few centuries later, it was the Christian church that initiated the "Medieval Inquisition," all over Europe, a black page in the history of the religion of Jesus Christ. The teachings of the Christian church were regarded as the foundation of law and order. Heresy was an offence against the state as well as the Church. By attempting to stamp out heresy, the church tortured and burnt to death those who did not share its beliefs. In the 1500s Roman Catholic leaders turned the Inquisition against Protestants, and Christians were engaged in killing fellow Christians.
During the Middle Ages, such methods were standard and accepted. Al Jihad, a Muslim movement, which like the Crusades was accepted then. Muslim armies tried to spread the faith rapidly. Splintering sects branded other Muslims as infidels, and declared Jihad against them. Today, we never hear of the Spanish Inquisition, but the mention of Al Jihad is rampant. Irish Catholics fought Irish Protestants for decades, resulting in the partition of Ireland.
From prehistoric times till the present day, Religion has been used as an excuse to kill. Going after the kill is one base instinct man finds hard to control. It is softened by a gilded coating of religious convictions, but it can never be blessed by God.
Pitiful are the crimes Man continually inflicts upon his brother. Genocide is not caused by natural disasters, it is a deliberate plan by one man to eliminate members of his own race. During the last 100 years, Jews were persecuted and killed at the hands of Christians, Muslims were eliminated in Bosnia and Kosovo, Buddhist monks were killed at the hands of the Chinese, Muslims kill Hindus and Hindus kill Muslims, the war between Israel and Palestine became a war between Jew and Muslim. Will man never learn?
Kill, kill, kill, must be a primeval need still buried deep down in the darkest depths of man's heart, one that he needs to overcome to be truly human. How dare he blame Religion!
Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it -- anything but live it!
-- Charles Caleb Colton (1780 -- 1832)