A few days ago, my agnostic Muslim friend in his seventies, Haroon Abbaas, from London, emailed me, and seeing the religious unrest in India and across the world, sadly quoted Jonathan Swift: “We have just enough religion to make us hate each other, but not enough to make us love each other. It got me thinking. Instead of making us love ourselves, religion seems to teach us to hate ourselves. Derived from the Latin root “religare,” which means “to bind,” the religion ironically does the exact opposite. In fact, it makes us “blind” rather than “bound”. Today it has become a veritable opium of the masses, as Karl Marx called it. Pakistani Urdu poet Abdul Hamid Adam put it succinctly, ‘Aaya nahin insaan ko ab tak jeena/Seekha faqat mazhab ke naam pe khoon bahana’ (Humans have not yet learned to live/What they have learned, is to shed blood in the name of religion). It is what we have long observed that in the name of religion and an imaginary god, unevolved and religiously drunk humans kill each other and shed bad blood. It is indeed regrettable, even condemnable.
Religion has robbed us of our innate reason and we all seem to behave like irrational creatures. As the whole world especially India is facing a series of problems such as hunger, ecological imbalance, wars, economic disparity, global warming, unemployment etc., we are wasting our time with religion, gods and shrines and in search of hidden shrines. in a sanctuary! It’s total indifference. A leader of this year’s IAS said tellingly that the focus of youth should be jobs, not religion. She also said that humanity should be the only religion. A hungry man’s religion is bread. This apt saying speaks of the futility of religion. Whether it’s partition, the Holocaust or Operation Bluestar, the root cause has always been religion. The philosopher Carl Popper rightly said, “Humans don’t need religion and God. What they need is the evolution of their mental faculties.
Alas, this evolution of mental faculties has not yet occurred at the collective level. That’s why we still argue about things that don’t matter. We must remember that it is religion that has created all kinds of differences, divisions and discriminations. Yet we cling to it as if it were our savior and dearer than life. If humanity wants to survive, we must get rid of the specter of all man-made religions and their invented gods. In the meantime, we will continue to make this world a slaughterhouse, a perpetual slaughterhouse.