Since everyone is talking, I would also like to add my share into the cacophony. I have always personally believed that religion is a personal, actually, intimate affair. For the same reason I NEVER engage in a discussion about the subject. But the recent exchange of mails (be it mere observations, participation, hurt mails, hate mails) has forced me to write in. I warn you that this is going to be a longish essay.
I have always felt that you can never generalize traits or shortcomings or even benefits for any religion. But since that was what was done in the past few days (by a seemingly harmless forward), I will have to resort to a few general points. The main point that has been brought out here has been violence and its propagation through religion. I will not single out any religion in this. Almost all the religions have a bloody history. And we are still continuing to make the present gory.
If we had the Internet back in the Middle Ages, I am sure the Crusades would have been a major cause for hate mails against Christians. The persecution Jews and Muslims have faced in the past is still not something that can be reconciled with. Take a walk around Kuwaat-ul-Islam (in the premises of Qutub Minar) to see how the very first mosque in India was built with the pillars and stones of Hindu and Jain temples, of course, after demolishing them to the very foundation. What the Hindus did in Ayodhya is not forgivable and will remain raw open wounds for a long time to come. What the Taliban did to the Buddha statues is heinous. Need I even begin with the conversions that have taken place into various religions? As subtle as they may seem… or as blatant as they may seem, it is still a cause of hurt for many people, many communities.
Religion has very deep connotations to it. Practicing a faith simply because you were born into it will not give you any extra right to profess that your faith is better than the other. However, if you use your time, patience, and wisdom to sit down and understand the tenets of the different religions, you will be able to see that the underlying reason behind all religions is the quest for peace. Why have a religion? So that you may have certain guidelines to live a good life. That is all to it, really. To search for quibbles and mysterious passages that look pretty shady when singled out, and to try to force out a meaning, and to condemn a religion is not a politically correct way to study religion. In fact, I would personally recommend staying out of religion if you are not mature enough to deal with it! What is mature attitude towards religion, you might ask.
A mature attitude towards religion would be to not pass judgments. A mature attitude towards religion would also mean not taking offence in the judgments passed! What one of our members did was to send across a mail to which he may or may not agree. What we all (including me) did was to suddenly get defensive and write in, in a tearing hurry! Now, that goes on to show our maturity levels and our capability to handle a discussion on such a matter. Maturity and wisdom have got nothing to do with your biological age at all. It has nothing to do with what your parents have asked you to think all this while. It comes from within and when it does, you will know it too. Why not we all wait till then?
All said and done, there is nothing wrong in a healthy discussion. Even a heated debate can be healthy as long as you maintain that you are not muck-throwing or maligning anyone. We have had discussions before. We have had interesting issues before. None of us have really chickened out when then need was there. Speaking up isn’t wrong at all. But being responsible to your audience is crucial.
This is an excerpt from a mail I shared with my group of school buddies.