Religion – a question ?
**** All opinions expressed are my own and no offence is meant to anyone. If you still wanna take offence, well good for you ****
Religion is a knife. If it sits on the table it is neither good nor bad. If I take it and cut bread for sandwiches it is good. If I stick it in your gut it is bad.
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Was reading an interview with Desmond Tutu in the newspaper last week and it set me thinking. Religion is normally a subject I keep well away from however this time I think it deserves some thought.
I have often wondered why religion was created. For sure its something created by mankind. It wasn’t present at the onset of creation. So then why was it created? Maybe it gave people back then some base like our laws today. They had something to go by in certain instances. Each religion was created for that time and is specific to that time. However they have hardly evolved from then to today. A lot of what we believe in as religion today was true only for then.
Well am a muslim by birth and so will just stick to it for examples. To start with Islam lets men have four wives. The reason for that back then were the wars. After the war there were a lot of widows and girls. The ratio of women to men was very high. That’s the reason for the allowance of four wives. It was to give these women homes, there were strict guidelines like loving each equally, treating each equally, providing equally etc. and only if you could satisfy these criteria could you marry multiple times. It makes sense if look at from that angle but does it make sense today?
Another is the purdha or burkha. The burkha came up at about the same time when women were being harassed. The idea was the safety of women, all women would look alike behind the veil and so a guy who wanted to tease or harass a women would not be sure who she is coz after all it could be his mother, sister or wife. Again makes sense back then, now look at today, fancy and flashy burkhas, they don’t seem to make women merge in the crowd. They work the opposite completely and make the woman stand out, make sure she’s noticed. Beats the idea completely, don’t you think?
Or let’s look at the system of Id-dath. Ok let me explain it. Id-dath is a custom that is followed in most sects of muslims. When the husband dies the wife has to sit in seclusion for up to three months. She may meet people, as long as they are women or men related to her in blood directly (father, brothers and sons). No one else may even get a glimpse of her. Now back to history. The reason for Id-dath largely was to ascertain who the father is just in case the woman was pregnant. Back then with no technology you had to wait a few months to know for sure you were pregnant and the only way to know who the father of the child was was to ask the mother. I have seen Id-dath practiced from up close and it’s a painful experience. Think of a woman, who has just lost her husband, can you imagine the pain she is going through. To add to this you put her in seclusion (back then people had time to visit but today no one has time and are busy in their own lives), have her wear only white, no TV, no entertainment, nothing to keep her mind off the ordeal she has gone through. Rather make her relive it countless times in those months.
Really Id-dath was a requirement back then but is it required today with our technology? Must a woman who has crossed menopause go through this? After all she can’t get pregnant.
Ok what am trying to get at is that its time religions were reworked.
So going back to my original topic, Why religion? Does it really help? Does it serve a purpose?
Ok am gonna try an answer each of them. The first one I have tried to answer in the beginning of this post for now, the rest is beyond me for now.
Does it really help? Well it might, actually it would, if we see religion as it is, if it brings people together, if we let it evolve with time, if it holds meaning for now and not yesterday, if its something we make and not what makes us. There are a lot of ifs but they will make a better world.
Does it serve a purpose? It could you know, we are all different people and a lot of things make us different, our culture, climate, geography, lifestyle etc. But if you looked at the core of all religions the similarity would be stunning. And yet there are differences that we create.
I have a lot of friends from different religious back grounds and we still are good friends. There have been times that I have gone for a puja or to church and people around would have never guessed am muslim (well we don’t have our religion written on our faces, we belong above all else to humankind, that’s creation the rest we created). Well am a muslim by birth and it ends there. I am a muslim by chance not choice. After all religion is a choice. I believe so.