THREE KINDS OF VERSIONS OF EVERY RELIGION IN A SOCIETY

 In Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism

THREE KINDS OF VERSIONS OF EVERY RELIGION IN A SOCIETY

  • ALI MOHAMMAD NAQVI

A penetrative observation and analysis of the religiosities and religious perspective seen in all societies, and in all religious communities show that there is not one but at least three kind of religions-at least perspectives about religion existing side by side. This is especially true today after we have entered the age of Post-modernity, but in fact, have existed always.

There are three kinds of religion and religiosities in all societies. This is a general sociological and intellectual phenomena which are not limited one religion but is true of all religions.

These three kinds of religions or Perspectives about Religion are:

1. The superstitious ritualistic perspective of masses. That is the dogmatic superstitious approach to religion. This is the Medieval ages approach to religion.

2. The Rational Theological Perspective of the semi-educated and educated and middle intellectual class. This is a scientific-rational approach to religion. This is the Perspective of  Modernity perspective of religion.

3. Meta-Scientific, meta-rational Approach to religion – This is the perspective which lays more emphasis on spirituality.  This is the postmodernity perspective.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE THREE PERSPECTIVES

FIRST KIND OF RELIGION:

1. SUPERSTITIOUS-RITUALISTIC PERSPECTIVE OF MASSES This is the superstitious and dogmatic ritualistic approach of the masses of people the main characteristics of this approach is as follows :

A. In the matter of beliefs,  the principle of blindly following every dogma and every belief of the forefathers and prevalent in the society is adhered to, without checking whether it is grounded in a real religious text or is a deviation or tradition,  developed through the ages. Another characteristic of this Perspective is uncompromising dogmatisms.  Any questioning, or a new interpretation of the dogmas and beliefs, is considered a heresy. It is violently resisted and rejected.

B. There is a great prejudice in respect of mythology and religious stories or what has been considered as a history of the sacred personalities. History is not seen as ‘history, but it becomes a matter of belief. Any historical research or questioning of any historical detail, like the age or lineage or place of birth, is considered a sacred belief, matter of astha. No  deviation from the accepted story can be accepted. If a historian say what he has found in the sources, it  is considered a heresy which cannot be forgiven.

C. There is a great sectarian tendency to follow the local sect leaders and unconsciously consider them as the highest authority in religion.

Instead of laying emphasis on studying and getting acquitted with the primary sources of religion and the main sacred books,  sanctity is given to some prevalent popular religious text. This may be the text containing prayers or talisman or story of religious personalities.

D. There is inflated importance attached to popular rituals;  in fact, this approach to religion, consider it nothing but a collection of some rituals. None can be considered a religious person unless he actively participates in these rituals.

E. There is a tendency for finding out short-cut to Paradise and salvation; to find easy ways of satisfying oneself that he has fulfilled the duties of religion and his duties towards God. There is a tendency to believe that our community is already a saved community which will directly enter into paradise without performing difficult duties or thinking about human and social accountability.  Even with a wash in a river, or with performing some particular ritual on some particular day, one has the free license to commit all kinds of moral and ethical improprieties and even social and legal crimes.

F. This is the religion of superstitious, khurafat, believing in all kind of superstitions, evil spirits. The belief in black and white magic and practising it is prevalent; consulting ‘astrologers’ in every affair is considered sure mean of success and avoiding setbacks

G. This kind of religion is intolerant, sectarian and begets hatred towards others. Sectarianism and fanaticism is hallmark of this religion.  Often petty issues result in bloodshed. There is no scope for interfaith understanding, or tolerance towards the faith of others in this lower version of religion which is prevalent among people.

H. Throughout history the clever politicians have exploited the masses following this version of religion,  in order to grab power and wealth and to defeat their opponents.  All the bloody wars and bloodshed in human history which have taken place in the name of religion, was in fact a simple phenomena of clever persons of power-three kind of powers those wielding political power, economic power and religious authority, gave hand exploit , instigate and mobilize multitude and general public in the name of religion to wage bloody war in history.  These wars are wrongly labelled as Religious Wars and thus believing that religion is responsible for much bloodshed in history.  In fact, most of these so-called ‘religious wars’ were waged by the ‘powerful’ for safeguarding their power or for realizing their ambitions.  There were non-religious motives of power and ego, ambition, envy, hatred of individuals and groups. But as they exploited and mobilized, the multitude following this ‘lower form ‘ of religion, and they have mobilized with religious slogans,  the colouring of these wars become apparently religious. Next are the Rational-Theological Version and Perspective of the Religion. We will deal with its characteristics later on.

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