Of Ecumenical Hubris

In the past few years, the widespread sweep of islamophobia has exacted a huge price from the Muslim community who have been on the receiving end of gratuitous violence, both verbal and physical, at the hands of the state and the society alike. Be that as it may, that should serve as no reason for the members of the community to be apologetic as a Muslim. But hold on.

In almost all the cases, barring a tiny fraction of them, those who espouse a certain faith or creed happen to do so exclusively on the grounds of the accident of their birth in a certain family and to certain parents. In such circumstances, the faith they inherit from the family and then begin to wear it on their sleeves down the line happens to come from that particular familial pedigree. And regardless of whether that faith derives from divine scriptures revealed through the prophets or that floated by godmen or sages in human flesh and blood, the point is that a supremacist view of faith, an ideology or a religious philosophy has since ceased to be the magic wand in the contemporary times in view of the climate of intolerance that has come to plague the polity like never before. In the conditions of life as they obtain today, the sheer reason and logical underpinnings of an argument in favour of a certain religious doctrine or practice, howsoever convincing, has ceased to be the justification for propagating that line of thinking as the ultimate truth. More so, because those espousing a different faith would tend to see red in such an approach and would perceive that as a threat to their religious faith or school of thought and, therefore, of that strand of faith being of a lesser provenance. That dort of a worldview would merely end up as a recipe to aggravate the already frayed interdenominational relationships in the society.

In the light if this, what needs to be addressed is this willing surrender to what has come to be pinned down as organised religiosity – as opposed to a rational approach to religion based on thought and reflection with an open mind- that has been the root cause of most of the ills afflicting religious communities across the board. An almost complete absence of excellence in education in general and in science, in particular, of the masses and, especially those from  the Muslim community has to be pinned down precisely to this abject surrender to dogma and doctrine. Whether one likes it or not, the situation on the ground dictates that religion and religiosity are supposed to remain the personal preserve of an individual and need not be allowed to be lost on those who espouse or practice it with their eyes closed.

The undeniable fact remains that in order to hope for a religious faith to gain traction among the masses, the best and the only way is to lead by example, by embodying the highest principles of morality and ethics enshrined as part of the foundations of a particular faith or ideology. It’s precisely the espousal of these highese moral principles that would result in building a strong individual character based on piety, virtue and good deeds. That alone would lead to a just society founded on the principles of peace, liberty and freedom. The propagation of a religious faith whether by stealth, allurement or forced conversions deserves to be banned to good effect. Simultaneously, the sacred duty of hoping to carry conviction to the masses through noisy, cacophonous congregations by the diehard proponents of various religious schools ought to be put in a limbo, at least for now. They may, and do, invoke reason and rational being employed as the tools to inform such debates, but they miss the elephant in the room – that reason and rationality are now passe and no more in currency right now, at least on matters involving faith and ecumenical allegiances.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by M A Sofi


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