By SM Shahrukh
April 3, 2015
Extremely conservative Christians believe that “there is no such thing as religious tolerance as far as God and Heaven is [sic] concerned. We are either in Christ or not.”
Not much is different for extreme believers of other faiths either. There is trickery in this on the part of people who control the religious belief system. A belief system that is pedaled, quite often, to the unsuspecting and credulous flock, so to speak, and they gobble it up. These confidence tricksters who use religion to further their own self-serving agenda use the economic hardships faced by the teeming millions and put up a vision in front of them that is twofold.
Firstly, they vilify their enemies in the name of religion, more often than not, banging it into people’s heads that the “truth” is more important and tolerance is a distant second to establishing that “truth”. The alleged truth is a subjective matter and is not crystal clear to a sceptic and a sceptic can become a “malcontent” within the flock to disorient it from its designated path that is to serve the religion, in effect, the people controlling the religion. Normal people are not always allowed to practice faith in private, but are constantly pushed to denigrate people of other faiths; some buckle under the pressure.
Secondly, the confidence tricksters use the idea of eternal peace of the afterlife as a possible substitute to the deprivation faced by the masses in their earthly existence. Religious leaders have always made clear in their sermons about the rewards and punishments awaiting one and all in the afterlife. There is nothing wrong with that. In many a case, these lessons may entice people to lead lives rich in morality and keep depravities at bay. But alas, human beings are flawed creatures and they falter at every other step. But redemption is promised in Holy Scripture after due penance. But the conmen who use religion often to glorify the afterlife to such an extent that they profess that a life in the afterlife awaits right now and one is better off going there at the soonest. The marginally educated, cash-strapped, debt-ridden, poverty-stricken and disillusioned young men and women fall into the trap like flies to molasses. Recruitment becomes quite easy for the “men with agenda”.
One would also find some bright people, young and educated and from financially flourishing backgrounds who fall to rhetoric of the Islamists, the so called jihadists. These people often get embroiled in activities that they had never bargained for, but once in, it becomes difficult for them to leave the nexus of terror.
Look at the world of Islam today. The Taliban, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab are all getting their lives of luxury, burning the blood of these disillusioned young men and women of Islam. Needless to say that some groups are active within the subcontinent that are wreaking havoc bringing various issues to the forefront and using Islam as a weapon.
The Islamic State (IS) has the attention of the world and the West and the East and, of course, the Middle East are reeling from the threats posed by them. The “Caliphate” that al-Baghdadi’s followers promise is never going to be “heaven on earth” but only a different kind of a despotic rule that the Arab world has already been suffering from; rather it promises to be more of a gruesome kind of rule -- a totalitarian heaven; a state of terror that would make George Orwell roll in his grave.
IS is also very smart as it is running its propaganda machine using all types of social and regular media. They have successfully conjured up a certain romanticism in the ruthless lifestyle of “the jihadi” and that has enamoured Muslim youth the world over, many of them suffering from alienation in a foreign land, a vast number, disillusioned and disenfranchised. But many sympathisers fail to realize that IS is nothing short of a “business venture”, a “Godfather” like family that delves in raping, looting, extorting, smuggling, wanton murder -- a total and complete mayhem.
Bangladesh, historically a country of sedate Muslims who, more or less, believed, till recently, in peaceful coexistence of many faiths and many beliefs, has started losing the collective tolerance bit by bit. This does not bode well for the future. A political scenario where one and all can become allies of the two major parties without any consideration to ideologies will make the country slip slide into deeper mire. We have seen the hydra heads of the terrorism monster appear twice in the space of a month.
And the Muslims who would like to lead a normal life in God, a life of work, family, festivities, vacations, and careers are paying a heavy price for these blood-sucking fanatics who are the first ones to flout all the tenets of Islam.
“Normal” Muslims the world over are getting the evil eye of, for want of a better word, racial hatred, and are in a constant state of exasperation for the violence and the intolerance that only a few propagate and that is a great misfortune for the world of tolerant, moderate and sedate Muslims who constitute the silent majority of the followers of the last Prophet.