In 1972, our ideological hero, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman said, while explaining the importance of building a secular country, "the Muslims will continue to practise their religion, no one can prevent them. And the Hindus will continue to practise theirs, no one can stop them. And so will the Buddhists and the Christians. The only thing that we won’t allow is the use of religion as a political weapon". Bangabandhu first incorporated the concept of secularism in the original Constitution in 1972 right after the liberation of Bangladesh. However, the 1979 fifth amendment deleted secularism from the Constitution. Bangladesh has always been a Muslim-majority country. But Bangabandhu wanted all the people of Bangladesh to practise their own religion without harming others. Unfortunately, the people could no longer nourish secularism in them and became hostile. Religious intolerance has already injected venom in our humanity. Not only Bangladesh, but the whole world is dying because of religious intolerance. Thus, it is a venomous destroyer of humanity.
Religion is a cultural system of accepted behaviour, morality and practices. There are almost 10,000 numbers of culturally acknowledged religions in the world. However, five major forms of religion are followed by people. Among these, 31.2% people are the followers of Christianity, 24.1% Islam, 15.1% Hinduism, 6.9% Buddhism and 5.7% folk religions (according to 2015 figures). Others belong to the group of Atheists (people who do not believe in the existence of God and any religion). There are varieties of religions, because the cultures across the world are so different. But the purpose of all religions has a single common ground that is to regulate social behaviour. However, ironically the varieties in different religions cause huge damage to the entire body of humanity. People, nowadays, are becoming more religious and less human. I must clarify my point. Otherwise, I may also be included in the blacklist of the anarchists.If we look at the world and its history, we will see a sea of blood, taken and given by humans, for the sake of protecting individual religion. So, religious intolerance is not a contemporary issue. From the medieval period till now, people are becoming more intolerant towards other religions. As a result, they practise "hate-killing". We all know the horrific story of one of the world's most notorious and monstrous dictators, the leader of Nazi party Adolf Hitler. He killed Jews for firmly believing in anti-Semitism. The Hindu-Muslim religious conflict is not a new thing to write about. The British tried to govern the entire Bengal by dividing two of the major religions. The Hindu and the Muslim are religiously, ideologically and culturally different. And that's so obvious! But the British took this difference as a weapon to subjugate them. So they divided and ruled the whole Bengal. It was divided into two religious lines--a Muslim majority in the East Bengal and a Hindu majority in the West Bengal. In the name of religion, both Muslims and Hindus shedded blood of each other and turned the whole land of Bengal into a sea of blood. Did they find anything different in their blood? Or the blood inside their flesh remained the same? Did they see any mark of Hinduism or Islam on any part of their body?
Recently the New Zealand mosques attack in Christchurch has trembled us from inside. A 28-year-old Australian man, just out of extreme abhorrence towards Muslims, shot indiscriminately inside a mosque and killed 49 Muslims who were praying for salvation. Even a four year old child had to become a victim of religious intolerance. He too was murdered brutally by this terrorist. We can never forget the hellish incident that took place in the Holey Artisan. Religious extremism destroyed the brain and future of a few bright, yet hellishly dark souls. I never understand why the extremists cannot stand other religions. No religion in the world would suggest killing the people of other religions. Please, understand the Holy Scriptures with an open mind.
People even look for differences in the same religion. England has a bloody history of a conflict between Protestants and Catholics remarkably from 17th to 18th century. In Bangladesh, Islam is different from the Islam in Soudi Arabia. Even in Islam, some extremists wholeheartedly believe in different sects. I remember, last month a barbarous news came up. In Saudi Arabia, a taxi driver savagely beheaded a six-year-old boy in front of his mother only because they were Shia Muslims. The innocent little boy became a victim of sectarian violence. I can't forget his face which was virally circulated in social media. Hinduism has caste system too. Some Hindu extremists even cannot drink water from a lower caste of Hindu. I will never stereotype any religion or any one. Terrorism, extremism and corruption have no religion.
In our country, still the minor religious groups have to suffer from bullying, teasing and even fighting. In educational institutions, offices and different job sectors, the minority has to face communal challenges. Then in the name of religion, political and social leaders come up with their so called morality and defend the victims for their political gain. Religion is used to defend those who are oppressed, and to oppress those who are defenceless. And again, a communal riot takes place. A religious tension hovers around the air. And the people, collectively, lose humanity.
Communal riots and terrorist attacks are taken place between two or more different regions. But what suffers the most is humanity. The assailants think they are up to omitting a particular religious group of people. But in reality, they are just killing human beings. They are eliminating humanity by being so inhumane. They never understand that "killing one human is equal to killing the entire humanity". Killing innocent people will never bring prosperity to one's country or religious community.
Please stop shedding blood in the name of religion. The Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and all other religious humans are the creation of the same Almighty. Still the world needs religion. But more importantly, the world needs humans. And most significantly, the world needs to sustain humanity!
The writer teaches English at a private university